No, a ballpoint pen won't save a choking person's life

IT works in the movies and even appears in some medical textbooks, but a cricothyroidotomy with just a ballpoint pen is virtually impossible, German researchers report.

In an unusual attempt at medical myth-busting, they gave two ballpoint pens to 10 medical laypersons and had them attempt the procedure on fresh cadavers.

All participants were able to perforate the skin, but only one was able to penetrate the cricothyroid ligament or the ventral wall of the trachea.

Even then, it took three attempts and more than five minutes, and "a lot of patience and force", they report

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