Pediatric foreign bodies and their management

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2005 Jun;7(3):212-8. doi: 10.1007/s11894-005-0037-6.


Ingestion of foreign bodies is a common pediatric problem, with more than 100,000 cases occurring each year. The vast majority of pediatric ingestions are accidental; increasing incidence of intentional ingestions starts in the adolescent age group. In the United States, the most common pediatric foreign bodies ingested are coins, followed by a variety of other objects, including toys, toy parts, sharp objects, batteries, bones, and food. In adolescents and adults, meat or food impactions are the most common accidental foreign body ingestion. Esophageal pathology underlies most cases of food impaction. Management of foreign body ingestions varies based on the object ingested, its location, and the patient's age and size. Esophageal foreign bodies as a group require early intervention because of their potential to cause respiratory symptoms and complications, esophageal erosions, or even an aortoesophageal fistula. Ingested batteries that lodge in the esophagus require urgent endoscopic removal even in the asymptomatic patient due to the high risk of complications. Sharp foreign bodies increase the foreign body complication rate from less than 1% to 15% to 35%, except for straight pins, which usually follow a relatively benign course unless multiple pins are ingested. Magnets are increasingly ingested, due to their ubiquitous nature and the perception that they do not pose a risk. Ingestion of multiple magnets creates a significant risk of obstruction, perforation, and fistula development. Methods to deal with foreign bodies include the suture technique, the double snare technique, and the combined forceps/snare technique for long, large, and sharp foreign bodies, along with newer equipment, such as retrieval nets and a variety of specialized forceps.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Digestive System*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / methods
  • Foreign Bodies* / diagnosis
  • Foreign Bodies* / therapy
  • Humans