cocktail with liquid nitrogen
A bartender makes a drink with liquid nitrogen - Representational image REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A cocktail with liquid nitrogen proved very expensive for a man from the Indian city of Gurugram as it burnt a hole in his stomach.

The incident happened at a pub in Gurugram city in April when the man, whose name has been held for privacy reasons, was partying with his friends. He had ordered the pub's latest offering – a cocktail with liquid nitrogen, the Times of India reported.

The man gulped down the drink even before the fumes coming out of it could evaporate. He reportedly started feeling uneasy and drowsy; his abdomen also bloated up and he was rushed to a nearby hospital.

A blood test revealed that the man was suffering from severe lactic acidosis – high level of lactic acid in the blood – which generally results from low levels of oxygen in the body. A CT scan showed large amount of free air in the abdominal void due to a hole in either the stomach or intestines.

"Perforated abdomen is fairly common. But it is usually 0.5 mm to 1 mm. But in this case, the abdomen looked like an open book," Dr Amit D Goswami, who attended to the man at Columbia Asia hospital in Gurugram, said.

Doctors had to perform an emergency surgery to save his life.

"Perforations are generally repaired by stitching, but in [this] case, we had to plan differently. Because of the large perforation and unhealthy tissues surrounding the perforation, the surgical team decided to remove the lower portion of the stomach and artificially join the remaining portion with small intestine," Dr Goswami said.

"Now, it is two months since the surgery and he is doing absolutely fine."

What is liquid nitrogen and how safe it is for a human body?

Nitrogen in its liquid state exists at an extremely low temperature, with a boiling point of -195.8C. It can instantly freeze anything that it comes in contact with while evaporating.

According to experts, the liquefied form of nitrogen gas is safe if handled properly. Although it is used by chefs in what it is called molecular gastronomy, it is not categorised as a food item.

"It is even colder than the coldest winter night in Antarctica, and will give any human tissue instant frostbite," Dr Mriganka S Sharma, a co-surgeon, said.

"Moreover, when liquid nitrogen turns from a liquid to a gas, it expands more than 500 times. If it is swallowed and gets down into the person's stomach, it could explode."

Dr Sharma also warned that people should be cautious while trying drinks with liquid nitrogen. "One should ensure that all the liquid has evaporated before consuming it," he added.