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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2012 Oct;121(10):678-81.

Efficacy of computed tomographic scans in the evaluation of patients with esophageal foreign bodies.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.



This study aimed to determine whether computed tomographic (CT) scans on which foreign body impaction cannot be detected can be relied upon to decide whether a patient requires further investigation by esophagoscopy. This information might minimize unnecessary esophagoscopy without incurring the risk of a missed impacted foreign body.


In a retrospective chart review of all patients admitted to National University Hospital, Singapore, over the period 2004 to 2011 for an ingested foreign body, case files of patients who underwent preoperative CT scanning followed by esophagoscopy were identified and reviewed. The results of the CT scan and the findings of esophagoscopy in these patients were analyzed.


A total of 376 patients underwent rigid esophagoscopy for an ingested foreign body during this period. Of these, 119 patients had CT scans performed before the endoscopy. Based on our analysis, the sensitivity of CT scanning was 100%, and the specificity was 70.6%. The positive predictive value was 89.5%, and the negative predictive value was 100%. None of the patients who had CT scans with no detectable foreign body had complications on follow-up.


CT scanning appeared to be sensitive and specific in investigation of patients with an ingested foreign body. It also has a high negative predictive value, which may allow it to be the only preliminary investigation in these patients. Based on these data, a prospective study with close monitoring of patients who have CT scans with no detectable foreign body can be designed to accrue more patients to answer this query.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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