Consuming even a small amount of liquid nitrogen can be dangerous.

Indian man drinks cocktail containing liquid nitrogen This is what happened to his stomach Image for representation; Screenshot: Eater/YouTube
news Accident Monday, July 03, 2017 - 19:40

A man had parts of his stomach removed after he drank a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen in a bar in Delhi.

Hindustan Times reported that the incident, which took place around two months ago, landed the man in the hospital with a stomach which, according to doctors, was "open like a book".

The cocktail containing liquid nitrogen was to be consumed after the smoke from the the drink had dispersed. The man however drank it immediately after it was served.

Soon after, he started experiencing extreme pain in his stomach and breathlessness, following which he was rushed to the hospital.

His vitals were erratic and a CT scan showed that his abdominal cavity had free air, thus indicating a tear in his stomach or intestines, the report states.

Dr Amit Deepta Goswami of Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurgaon, who operated on him, told HT, "Consuming liquid nitrogen can cause havoc in a person’s system. By nature, liquid nitrogen expands manifolds and evaporates when left at room temperature. The gas did not have an escape route after the person consumed it and the sphincter closed, this is what led to a perforation (a hole) in his stomach."

While perforations are usually smaller in size and can be sewed back, another surgeon said that, in this case the tear was so big that the lower and middle parts of his stomach "were open like a book".

The doctors had to remove the damaged parts of his stomach and connect the remaining to his small intestine.

Liquid nitrogen is a coolant usually used for computers, in medical procedures and cryogenics.

As Professor Peter Barham from the University of Bristol's School of Physics told the BBC, liquid nitrogen is "simply the harmless gas nitrogen, which has been cooled to such a low temperature that it becomes a liquid".

It has a boiling point of -196C. It is so cold that it can can cause frostbites if a person touches it directly.

With its ability to instantly freeze food or create a vapour cloud, liquid nitrogen has emerged as a popular ingredient in the food scenario in the last few years.

Experts however advice caution in using the liquid.

In 2012, a teenager in England had her stomach removed after drinking a cocktail which had liquid nitrogen.

John Emsley, a science writer and fellow at the Royal Society of Chemistry, explained to the BBC how a even a very small amount of liquid nitrogen could cause significant damage if swallowed.

"If you drank more than a few drops of liquid nitrogen, certainly a teaspoon, it would freeze, and become solid and brittle like glass. Imagine if that happened in the alimentary canal or the stomach. The liquid also quickly picks up heat, boils and becomes a gas, which could cause damage such as perforations or cause a stomach to burst," he said.