Diagnostic performance of multidetector computed tomography for foreign body aspiration in children

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2013 May;77(5):808-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.02.016. Epub 2013 Mar 13.


Objective: To evaluate the sensitivity of multidetector computed tomography for confirming suspected foreign body aspiration into the airways in children.

Method: We conducted a multicentre prospective study of 303 children evaluated using multidetector computed tomography with axial analysis complemented by multiplanar reconstruction when required. The images were read by a radiologist before endoscopy then reviewed later by a senior radiologist blinded to the endoscopy findings. Endoscopy was performed routinely.

Results: Foreign bodies were found by endoscopy in 70 of the 303 children. The initial multidetector computed tomography reading was 94% sensitive and 95% specific. For the review, the images for 91 patients were excluded because of motion blurring or absence of larynx visualisation; in the remaining 212 patients, sensitivity was 98% and specificity 97%.

Conclusion: Multidetector computed tomography as performed in our patients cannot replace endoscopy, which remains the reference standard. Nevertheless, multidetector computed tomography is sufficiently sensitive to be of value when foreign body aspiration is not considered initially or when endoscopy is likely to prove challenging.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bronchi
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnosis
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging*
  • France
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Larynx / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Aspiration / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Trachea / diagnostic imaging*