A retrospective review of complicated foreign bodies of upper aerodigestive tract

Ritesh Mahajan, Prashanth V.


Background: Inhalation/aspiration of foreign bodies (FB) into upper aerodigestive tract are very commonly encountered by otorhinolaryngologists. Most foreign bodies in adults are manageable, but sometimes can lead to fatal consequences in children. However, despite significant advances in instrumentation, they remain a therapeutic and diagnostic challenge. The aim was to study the clinical presentation, site of impaction, complications and management of foreign bodies in upper aerodigestive tract.

Methods: A retrospective study was conducted in department of ENT-Head and Neck Surgery, Rajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital, Bangalore. A total of 50 eligible patients were reviewed who got operated for foreign body in upper aerodigestive tract under general anaesthesia.  

Results: History of foreign body was present in 86% of cases and 25% of the patients had complaints of difficulty in breathing. Nose being most common site in 74%, 70% of the patient belongs to 0-10 age group and male: female ratio was 1.7:1. Complications were seen in 12% of patients. Foreign body removal rate was 100%.

Conclusions: Early diagnosis is the key to successful and uncomplicated management of FB in upper aerodigestive tract. An orderly and systematic approach along with proper history and clinical examination is keystone in diagnosis and early management.


Foreign body, Dysphagia, Nasal obstruction, Aerodigestive tract

Full Text:



Holinger LD. Foreign Bodies of the Airway and Esophagus. In: Holinger LD, Lusk RP, Green CG, eds. Pediatric Laryngology and Bronchoeso-phagology. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven Publishers; 1997: 233-251.

Koempel JA, Holinger LD. Foreign bodies of the upper aero digestive tract. Indian J Pediatr. 1997;64:763-9.

Harris CS, Baker SP, Smith G, et al. Childhood asphyxiation by food: a national analysis and overview. JAMA. I984;251(17):2231-5.

Lemberg PS, Darrow DH, Holinger LD. Aerodigestive tract foreign bodies in the older child and adolescent. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1996;105:267.

Hawkins DB. Removal of blunt foreign bodies from the esophagus. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 1990;90:935.

Banerjee S. Concept of foreign body its past and present. Int J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999;51(Suppl 1):23–30.

Shivakumar AM, Naik, Prashanth KB, Hongal GF, Chaturvedy. Foreign bodies in upper digestive tract. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006;58(1):63-90.

Mu L, He P, Sun D. Inhalation of foreign bodies in Chinese children: A review of 400 cases. Laryngoscope. 1991;101:657-60.

Nandapalan V, McIlwain JC. Removal of nasal foreign bodies with a Fogartybiliary balloon catheter. J LaryngolOtol. 1994;108:758-60.

McGuirt WF, Holmes KD, Feehs R, Browne JD. Winston-Salem. Tracheobronchial foreign bodes. Laryngoscope. 1988;98:615-7.