In an effort to improve the diagnosis and management of children with aspiration or ingestion of foreign bodies we reviewed 100 consecutive cases of esophageal (49) or tracheobronchial (51) foreign bodies occurring over a 6-year period. While the incidence of positive physical findings in the esophageal group was low, the combination of plain and contrast radiography was positive in 96% (47/49). Of the patients with tracheobronchial foreign body, 78% (40/51) had lateralizing signs on physical examination and 80% (41/51) had abnormal inspiratory/expiratory radiographs. Disimpaction of esophageal foreign bodies was carried out using a combination of techniques with 100% success and no complications. All cases of tracheobronchial foreign bodies were managed with the rigid bronchoscope with 98% success (50/51) using a variety of instruments. Complications secondary to the foreign body itself rather than its management were seen in 9 patients, and were often due to a delay in diagnosis. A careful history and physical examination along with appropriate radiographic studies will result in a correct diagnosis in virtually all cases of esophageal and tracheobronchial foreign bodies. A liberal indication for endoscopy using an approach tailored to the particular case will almost always be successful.
- Foreign bodies