Pediatric airway foreign body retrieval: surgical and anesthetic perspectives

Paediatr Anaesth. 2009 Jul;19 Suppl 1:109-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2009.03006.x.


Airway foreign body aspiration most commonly occurs in young children and is associated with a high rate of airway distress, morbidity, and mortality. The presenting symptoms of foreign body aspiration range from none to severe airway obstruction, and may often be innocuous and nonspecific. In the absence of a choking or aspiration event, the diagnosis may be delayed for weeks to months and contribute to worsening lung disease. Radiography and high resolution CT scan may contribute to the eventual diagnosis. Bronchoscopy is used to confirm the diagnosis and retrieve the object. The safest method of removing an airway foreign body is by utilizing general anesthesia. Communication between anesthesiologist and surgeon is essential for optimal outcome. The choice between maintenance of spontaneous and controlled ventilation is often based on personal preference and does not appear to affect the outcome of the procedure. Complications are related to the actual obstruction and to the retrieval of the impacted object. The localized inflammation and irritation that result from the impacted object can lead to bronchitis, tracheitis, atelectasis, and pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy*
  • Anesthesia, Inhalation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Foreign Bodies / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant