Foreign Body in Esophagus

These are relatively common in children, and such items as peanuts, beads, pieces of plastic from toys, peas, beans and many other things may find their way into the upper airways. Any unexplained fit of sudden coughing or choking in a child must be suspect, and deserves prompt attention.

It is rare for the foreign body to lodge in a major airway so as to endanger life. More probably it will lodge further down, and obstruct part of the lung.

Foreign bodies are common in the pharynx, and fish bones head the list. However, a great variety of objects have been found in unusual places, and even dentures have become dislodged and stuck in the throat.

Fish bones commonly lodge in the tonsil, or in the base of the tongue. It is usually easy to know if this has occurred, and the patient is invariably the best guide as to where the foreign body is.

Many can be removed easily with forceps or crocodile forceps. Simple obvious obstructions may be handled by the patient or an assistant. Others need the doctor particularly if they are lower down and out of ready view. Special instruments may be necessary to find and remove them.

Foreign Body in Esophagus Treatment

If acute respiratory distress is taking place, emergency treatment is imperative, and a tracheotomy may be necessary to save a life, and avoid death from choking. This is not usual, however. In most cases, the initial discomfort— coughing and spluttering—tends to settle down. The best advice is to get the patient (generally a child) to a major emergency centre of a large hospital as promptly as possible. Here, ENT experts well versed in the problem will be able to assess the case, and take appropriate action.

Usually this will entail removing the foreign object with the laryngoscope. The old methods of turning the child upside down, slapping him on the back etc are now not encouraged, for it has been found they seldom do any good, and in fact may aggravate the problem by allowing the object to be inhaled deeper into the respiratory tract and making subsequent removal even more difficult. Other current methods in treating choking are located in the section on first aid and emergencies.