Nicky Blackburn
June 26

A surgeon at an Israeli hospital is using a simple metal detector purchased from AliExpress to locate shrapnel in war casualties. 

Since the war broke out on October 7, thousands of people have been admitted to Israeli hospitals with shrapnel injuries, and surgery is often lengthy, complex and challenging.

“When shrapnel fragments are in the hand or leg, they are easier to locate. However, in the head and neck area, it is much more challenging,” said Dr. Eyal Sela, director of the Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery Department of Galilee Medical Center.

“Surgeries in these areas are complex and sensitive; even slight movements during surgery can cause paralysis, due to the proximity to nerves and blood vessels.” 

Sela’s lightbulb moment came during an operation on a soldier hit by Hezbollah fire from Lebanon. The soldier was brought to the Galilee Medical Center, which is based in Nahariya near Israel’s border with Lebanon, with a bullet lodged in the base of his skull.

Despite the fact that Sela knew the area where the bullet was located, it took him over an hour to find it. It was then that he came up with the creative idea to use a metal detector to help him locate the shrapnel more efficiently.

He ordered one from the online Chinese retail outfit AliExpress and since it arrived has been using it to successfully locate and remove shrapnel from many patients, saving time and reducing surgical complications.

One recent patient was a soldier injured in a Hezbollah drone attack in Hurfeish, three weeks ago.

“This soldier arrived in a serious condition, with shrapnel in the back of his head and skull. The entry wound was in one place, and the shrapnel in another,” said Sela. 

“Without the device, locating it would have taken much longer, and the shrapnel was in a particularly sensitive area. The metal detector significantly shortened the procedure, preventing unnecessary incisions and complications,” he added.

Sela recently presented this innovative use of a metal detector at the Annual Meeting of the Israeli Society of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

At the start of the war with Hamas in October, the Galilee Medical Center moved its inpatient wards and critical care units to its fortified underground facility. 

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