Ear, nose and throat foreign bodies in Melanesian children: an analysis of 1037 cases

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2006 Sep;70(9):1539-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2006.03.018. Epub 2006 May 16.


Objective: Occurrence of foreign bodies (FBs) in ear, nose and throat (ENT) in children are not uncommon in clinical practice. We described our experience with ENT foreign bodies in Melanesian children.

Method: The study was carried out at the tertiary referral center which is also a University teaching hospital. The 15-year period from 1990 to 2004, 1037 cases of ENT foreign bodies were managed. The clinical, operative and follow up data of these patients were collected from available clinic cards and admission charts. A retrospective analysis was made with these data.

Results: Foreign bodies in the external auditory canal constituted 711 (68.6%) cases. It was followed by nose in 258 (24.9%), pharynx in 26 (2.5%), esophagus in 21 (2.0%) and laryngotracheobronchial (LTB) tree in 21 (2.0%) cases. Innumerable varieties of foreign bodies were removed from the ear. The common ones were stones in 277 (39.0%), seeds in 142 (20.0%), plastic ornament beads in 70 (9.8%) and cotton in 48 (6.8%) cases. Six hundred and thirteen (86.2%) of them were removed under microscope at the clinic without any complications. The difficult ones in uncooperative children were removed in the operation theatre. They numbered 98 (13.8%). The nasal foreign bodies were exclusively limited up to the age of 12 years. Common nasal foreign bodies were foam in 54 (20.9%), seeds in 51 (19.8%), stone in 28 (10.9%) and ornament beads in 24 (9.3%) cases. Two hundred and forty-six (95.3%) of them were removed in the clinic. Only 12 (4.7%) were removed in the operation theatre. Fishbone was the commonest (23, 90.2%) foreign body encountered in the pharynx of the children. Coins were the exclusive esophageal foreign bodies in children and all were removed in the operation theatre under general anesthesia. In the LTB tree the FBs were mostly localized to the right main bronchus which occurred in 11 (52.4%) cases. This was followed by the trachea in four (19.1%) cases. The different types of FBs encountered were coffee beans in eight (38.0%), peanuts in five (23.8%), plant seeds in three (14.2%) cases. We encountered two mortalities in these LTB FB patients.

Conclusions: Otolaryngological foreign bodies in children are common. For early diagnosis a high index of suspicion has to be maintained by pediatric otolaryngologist.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ear, External*
  • Foreign Bodies / epidemiology
  • Foreign Bodies / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Melanesia
  • Nose*
  • Pharynx*
  • Retrospective Studies