Foreign bodies in the upper airways causing complications and requiring hospitalization in children aged 0-14 years: results from the ESFBI study

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2008 Aug;265(8):971-8. doi: 10.1007/s00405-007-0566-8. Epub 2008 Jan 22.


Foreign body (FB) aspiration/inhalation is a serious problem because it is still a cause of death in children, especially among those younger than 4 years. The objective of this paper is to characterize the risk of complications and prolonged hospitalization due to foreign bodies (FB) in the upper airways in terms of the characteristics of the injured patients (age, gender), typology and features of the FBs, the circumstances of the accident and the hospitalization details. A retrospective study in the major hospitals of 19 European countries was realized on injuries occurred in the years 2000-2002 and identified by means of the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes listed on hospital discharge records. In 170 cases, it was reported an injury due to the presence of a FB in the pharynx and larynx (ICD933) and in 552 records, it was reported a FB located in the trachea, bronchi and lungs (ICD934). Unlike the complications that occurred in 70 (12.7%) of cases, the hospitalizations were present in 433 (77.6) of the total injuries. One patient died. A higher incidence in males (63%) was observed. Median age for children who experienced complications was 2 years. The most common FB removal technique was laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy. In majority of the cases, children were treated by ENT department. The most common FBs were nuts, seeds, berries, corn and beans. In general, small, round crunchy foods pose a risk of choking. Since prevention is the most essential key to deal with these types of injuries, more effort in caregivers' public education is warranted.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bronchi
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Food
  • Foreign Bodies / complications*
  • Foreign Bodies / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Larynx
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Pharynx
  • Respiratory System*
  • Trachea