Grassheads in the tracheobronchial tree: two different outcomes

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1981 Jul-Aug;90(4 Pt 1):406-8. doi: 10.1177/000348948109000425.


Many vegetable foreign bodies can produce serious pulmonary complications because of chemical irritation to the airway. Barley grass, a type of grasshead, does not induce such a reaction because of its resistance to organic decay. Complications which may occur are illustrated by the clinical course of two patients with aspiration of this foreign body. In the first patient the grasshead entered the trachea with the flowering unit first and the stem following. In the second patient the stem entered the trachea first. Recurrent pneumonias were noted in the first patient. Despite its presence in the right stem bronchus for three years, no further episodes of pneumonia followed its removal. In the second patient the grassheads could not be removed endoscopically. They migrated into the right lower lobe producing pneumonia and ultimately resulting in a brain abscess. The difference of entry of the same foreign body into the trachea, stem first versus flowering unit first, is an essential factor in altering the clinical outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Brain Abscess / etiology*
  • Bronchi*
  • Bronchiectasis / etiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / complications*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Poaceae*
  • Trachea*