Airway foreign bodies (FB): a 10-year review

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2000 Dec 1;56(2):91-9. doi: 10.1016/s0165-5876(00)00391-8.


A retrospective chart review of children who had airway foreign body removed via direct laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy (DLB) from 1987-1997 was conducted in Children's Hospital, Boston. Patient characteristics noted included age, sex, and clinical presentation. Pre-operative radiographic findings, reason for delay in evaluation, DLB findings, length of procedure, reason for repeat DLB, and types of foreign body etc. were recorded. Serious complications from aspirated foreign bodies such as severe airway obstruction and death tend to occur in infants and younger children because of their small airway size. A history compatible with foreign body aspiration dictates diagnostic endoscopy with or without radiologic confirmation. Chest and airway radiographs supplemented by fluoroscopy can increase the ratio of correct and early diagnosis. Fluoroscopy should be universally accepted as an initial diagnostic technique in airway foreign body evaluation. Fluoroscopy is not a worthwhile investigation if a preceeding chest radiograph suggests the presence of a foreign body. Long-standing airway foreign bodies are associated with considerable morbidity, and early diagnosis remains the key to successful and uncomplicated management of foreign body aspiration. Education aimed at increasing diagnostic acumen of the physicians and heightening of public awareness are the most important steps needed to reduce the morbidity and mortality. Parents should be instructed to abstain from feeding nuts and seeds to young children and to keep small, potentially ingestible objects out of their reach.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology*
  • Bronchoscopy / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies* / complications
  • Foreign Bodies* / epidemiology
  • Foreign Bodies* / surgery
  • Foreign-Body Migration / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Laryngoscopy / methods
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Time Factors