Nasal foreign bodies in children: should they have a plain radiograph in the accident and emergency?

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2008 Apr;24(4):217-8. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31816a9f1b.


Primary objective: To determine the proportion of children with nasal foreign bodies who had button batteries as the foreign body.

Secondary objective: To describe the clinical care and outcome of those children with a button battery foreign body.

Methods: A retrospective review of all children presenting to the accident and emergency room with a nasal foreign body or unilateral nasal discharge during a 6-month period was assessed.

Results: Forty-four children were included. The most common object found was a plastic bead (27%), followed by foam, paper, or tissue fragments (23%); food matter represented 15%. A button battery was found in 3 patients (7%); other foreign bodies included stones, buttons, crayons, erasers, and a pellet. Thiry-six (82%) had their foreign body removed without anesthetic and 8 (18%) required a general anesthetic. All 3 children with a button battery went undiagnosed until examination in the operating theater. Because there was no previous indication of the presence of a button battery in the 3 children, the removal of the foreign body under general anesthesia was scheduled for the following day.

Conclusions: The removal of the button batteries would have been expedited had a plain radiograph been obtained, possibly resulting in less morbidity for our patients. We recommend a plain radiograph in all children presenting with a nonvisible foreign body or unilateral nasal discharge.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nose / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution