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The branch impaled the unidentified man's neck, narrowly avoiding his windpipe and a major artery...

A man in the US suffered a freak injury after coming off his bike and being impaled in the neck by a tree branch.

The unidentified 40-year-old cyclist received the gruesome injury while riding off-road in New Mexico, apparently realising something wasn't right when he stood up.

Discovering the branch sticking out of his neck, lodged 2cm deep and just millimetres from his windpipe and a major artery, the man went back to the car with his bike and drove 20 miles to the nearest hospital.

Doctors said if he had pulled the branch out himself it could have caused more damage to the delicate structures in the neck.

Dr Lev Deriy, an assistant professor and anaesthesiologist at the University of New Mexico is reported by the Sticky Bottle as saying: “The neck contains a lot of very important, vital structures… (he was) lucky not to damage anything.”

CT scans show the stick clearly wedged into the man's flesh, though luckily avoiding all major blood vessels and his spine.

Surgeons operated on the man before closing the wound.

You can see pictures here (warning: gore).