The wife of the 63-year-old Glendale man called 911 on Sunday night and told the emergency operator her husband was using a knife to remove a protruding hernia, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
"She said he had impaled himself with a knife," Lorenz said.
A hernia occurs when all or part of an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a hole or a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue. While the man said he was trying to remove a hernia, hernias are normally repaired by doctors in a hospital or medical setting involving some type of procedure to push the organ back in.
Officers found the man naked on a patio lounge chair outside his apartment with a 6-inch butter knife sticking out of his stomach. The man's wife told officers that her husband was upset about the hernia and wanted to take it out.
While waiting for paramedics, the sergeant said, the man pulled out the knife and stuffed a cigarette he was smoking into the bleeding, open wound.
"What he was thinking, I don't know. I don't know if he was cauterizing it (the wound)," Lorenz said.
The man wasn't screaming or showing any signs of pain, the sergeant said.
Based on his actions and statements from the wife, Lorenz said the man was placed on psychiatric hold and taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
Because he's on psychiatric hold for up to 72 hours under the state Welfare and Institutions Code, Lorenz said the man's name and condition cannot be released.
"You just never know what to expect," said Lorenz, who has been on the police force for 29 years. "I've seen self-mutilation, but not a maneuver like this."