Handheld metal detector confirmation of radiopaque foreign bodies in the esophagus

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001 Nov;127(11):1371-4. doi: 10.1001/archotol.127.11.1371.


Objective: To examine the utility of handheld metal detectors in confirming the position of radiopaque foreign bodies in the esophagus before delayed endoscopic removal.

Design: Prospective study of patients evaluated between June 1, 1997, and August 31, 1999.

Setting: Tertiary pediatric referral center.

Patients: Twenty-six of 139 children presenting consecutively for evaluation of esophageal foreign bodies met eligibility criteria and completed the study protocol. Inclusion in the study was contingent on a delay of at least 6 hours from the time of diagnosis to the time of endoscopic removal. All patients underwent both radiographic evaluation and handheld metal detector scanning of the chest and abdomen on presentation and immediately before endoscopic removal.

Results: All patients evaluated during the study period had coins lodged within the esophagus. Handheld metal detector scanning accurately confirmed this position before endoscopic removal in all cases.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that handheld metal detectors may obviate the need for repeated radiographs in patients whose foreign bodies cannot be removed at presentation.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic Equipment
  • Esophagus*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Metals
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Metals