Foreign body aspiration, a continuously growing challenge: Tanta University experience in Egypt

Auris Nasus Larynx. 2011 Feb;38(1):88-94. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2010.05.010. Epub 2010 Jun 23.


Objective: To evaluate the different factors that affect the spectrum and frequency of foreign body (FB) aspiration as a growing problem in different ages, and express the experience of our department in managing the problem in the recent two decades.

Methods: The charts of 3600 patients who underwent bronchoscopic evaluation over a period of 20 years for a suspicion of FB inhalation were reviewed. The patients were divided according to the age into group A; up to 10 years, and group B; more than 10 years. Each group was investigated and compared with the other with respect to sex, history of FB aspiration, time elapsed between aspiration and hospital admission, clinical and radiographic findings, and FB location, type, retrieval, and complications. Seasonal, geographic, and socio-cultural factors and frequency of FB aspiration in relation to the study period were also recorded.

Results: In group A, boys were affected more than girls (1.3:1), while in group B, females were affected more than males (40.5:1). Among history positive patients in group A (72.8%) and B (96.8%), FB was detected in 88% and 97% respectively, while among history negative patients, FB was found higher in group A (49%) than group B (25%). The time elapsed before admission was longer in group A than group B. Cough was the most prominent symptom, while decreased breath sounds was the commonest sign in both groups. Pneumatic infiltration was the most frequent radiographic finding in group A (33.6%), while radio-opaque FB was higher in group B (94.1%). Peanut (67.3%) and seeds (21.2%) were the commonest FBs detected in group A, whereas, headscarf pins (91.3%) were predominant in group B. Foreign bodies were almost equally distributed in the laryngotracheobronchial tree in group A, while the left bronchial tree was much more affected in group B. Rigid bronchoscopy was used in groups A and B with a success rate of 99.8% and 99.7% respectively, while flexible bronchoscopy was only used in 0.2% in group B. Complications such as laryngotracheal edema (16.6%) and pneumothorax (2.3%) were encountered in group A more than group B (3.1%, 1.2%) and there was no mortality. Most of the aspirated FBs were recorded during summer months and commonly detected in patients of low socio-cultural status in both groups.

Conclusion: Foreign body aspiration is a continuously growing problem in Lower Egypt affecting all ages with two peaks at 3 and 14 years old. The rate of FB aspiration was affected by age; sex; traditions and believes; and seasonal, geographic, and socio-cultural factors. A high index of suspicion, rapid hospital admission, and bronchoscopic evaluation by experienced specialists were crucial for successful retrieval of the FB with low rate of morbidity. Public awareness through mass media needs attention to decrease the growing rate of this problem.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging
  • Foreign Bodies / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Larynx
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission
  • Radiography
  • Respiratory Aspiration / epidemiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Trachea