Cyclist speared through neck with tree branch travels 20 miles to hospital

Posted on: August 12th, 2015

When this cyclist crashed while out training, he was impaled through the neck by a tree branch. He got up and made his way to hospital with the branch still in his neck.


A cyclist in the United States has had a lucky escape after he was impaled through the neck with a tree branch when he took a tumble.

The unidentified 40-year-old was riding off road in New Mexico when he fell off his mountain bike only to struggle to his feet not feeling quite right.

He quickly established he had a branch sticking from his neck after it speared his flesh and lodged almost 2cm deep and just millimetres from his wind pipe and a major artery.

Details of the man’s unusual case have been published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The branch just missed a major artery between his heart and brain, which would have resulted in significant blood loss had it been severed.

The rider had the presence of mind to leave the branch in place and make his way back to his car with his bike before driving himself to the nearest hospital around 20 miles away.

Had he pulled out the branch it may have caused more serious damage than the initial injury.

“The neck contains a lot of very important, vital structures… (he was) lucky not to damage anything,” said Dr Lev Deriy, an assistant professor and anaesthesiologist at the University of New Mexico where the man presented for treatment.

Surgeons were able to operate on him and remove the branch before closing the wound, with the cyclist suffering no long term damage.

The CT scan image below reveals that while the branch protruding from his neck looked unusual and painful, it was not long enough to penetrate his cardiovascular or respiratory systems, not to mention his spinal cord.


The cyclist’s CT scan, with the branch visible in the top right corner.