Extreme closeup photograph of a man's nose.

Enlarge / The amazing human nose. (credit: Getty | Picture Alliance)

Nose pickers are often said to be digging for gold. But a 48-year-old Australian man needed an entirely different kind of nugget mined from his schnoz.

Doctors excavated from the man's right nasal cavity a 19mm×11mm rock-hard mass—the calcified remains of a small amount of marijuana he tried to smuggle into prison a startling 18 years earlier.

The man's nose stone—reported this month in the journal BMJ Case Reports—is a rare example of illicit drugs causing a rhinolith, which are rare on their own. Rhinoliths are stone-like concretions formed by the gradual buildup of salts around things not normally found in the nose. The term rhinolith comes from the Greek rhino (meaning nose) and lithos (meaning stone). They're estimated to show up in 1 out of 10,000 outpatient visits to an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

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