Author: Aaron Lessen, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • A “stuffer” is a term for someone who hastily and conceals a bag of drugs orally/rectally/vaginally in an unplanned situation. A “packer” is someone who is planning to smuggle drugs, and does so in a similar manner.


  • “Stuffers”are more likely to have the drug container open up in their system, while packers tend to have more reliable containment, but typically have larger quantities on-board.
  • Be on look out for symptoms associated with the drug’s exposure (drug dependent) as well as mechanical symptoms (perforation; obstruction).
  • If suspicious, order CT as X-rays underestimate severity.
  • Management: treat symptoms of intoxication appropriately, observe if packets are intact, consider surgery/endoscopy if necessary.



Dueñas-Laita A, Nogué S, Burillo-Putze G (2004). “Body packing”. New England Journal of Medicine. 350 (12): 1260–1

Hergan K, Kofler K, Oser W (2004). “Drug smuggling by body packing: what radiologists should know about it”. Eur Radiology. 14 (4): 736–42.

Traub SJ, Hoffman RS, Nelson LS (2003). “Body packing—the internal concealment of illicit drugs”. New England Journal of Medicine. 349 (26): 2519–26.

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