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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Feb;74(2):658-63. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3182789520.

Inhalation of foreign bodies in children: experience of 22 years.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Dicle University Hospital, Diyarbakır, Turkey.



Foreign body (FB) inhalation into airways of the respiratory system is a life-threatening condition and can be fatal. The purpose of this survey was to evaluate the types and characteristics of inhaled foreign bodies, the age distribution of children, and the outcome.


We outlined a retrospective review of hospital data of patients between 1990 and 2012. FB inhalation occurring in children 0 year to 16 years was considered for inclusion. During the study period, 1,660 patients undergoing bronchoscopy with the diagnosis of FB were included. Deaths on arrival were excluded.


Of the patients, 53% were male, and 47% were female (p > 0.05). The mean age was 6.2 years for girls and 4.7 years for boys. In 57% of all cases, the children were younger than 3 years. An FB was found within the respiratory tract of 1,565 patients. The FBs were always extracted by using rigid bronchoscopy. Hospitalization was always required owing to an institutional requirement. The origin of the FBs were within the two main groups of food and objects. Food FBs included seeds, nuts, beans, and fruit parts. FB objects included pins, toy parts, and metal pieces. FB and subsequent treatment revealed that morbidity was present; however, mortality was rare.


Most of the inhaled FBs were found in the bronchial tree. Children younger than 3 years are more vulnerable. There seemed to be an association between the aspirated FBs and season, geographic locality, and sociocultural environment. The removal of choice is rigid bronchoscopy under general anesthesia. That most cases of FB in children occurs under the supervision of adults indicates that the incidence and severity of airway FB inhalation can be reduced by parental education and public awareness.


Epidemiologic study, level III.

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