We studied 80 children who presented to the emergency department (ED) with a complaint of coin ingestion to determine whether radiographs are necessary in all situations and to determine which symptoms or signs are predictive of esophageal coins. Radiographs were considered positive if the coin was in the esophagus. Radiographs were positive in 25 (31%) of patients, of whom 11 (14%) had no symptoms or signs in the ED. Fifty-five (69%) of the 80 patients had subdiaphragmatic foreign bodies (44 [55%]), or no foreign bodies (11 [14%]) seen on films. Fourteen (18%) of the children required removal of the coin. Variables correlating with positive radiograph, in order of significance, included localization, choking at ingestion, drooling in the ED, vomiting, and chest pain. (P < .05). Symptom type was predictive of radiographic findings, and it may be predictive of need for removal. All 14 patients with symptoms or signs in the ED had positive films, as compared to 11 of 66 (16.6%) with no symptoms (chi square = 33.555; P < .001). Although this relationship is significant, the finding of esophageal foreign body in 17% of patients with no symptoms leads us to recommend that all patients have a chest radiograph if coin ingestion is suspected.
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