Foreign body in the airway. A review of 200 cases

Am J Dis Child. 1980 Jan;134(1):68-71. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130130050015.


Two hundred children aged 6 months to 12 years were admitted to the hospital with a foreign body in the airway. Food materials constituted 93% of all foreign bodies. A positive history of foreign body aspiration was obtained in 88% of the cases. The most common symptoms of laryngotracheal foreign bodies were dyspnea, cough, and stridor, whereas those of bronchial foreign bodies were cough, decreased air entry, wheezing, and dyspnea. Chest fluoroscopy contributed to the diagnosis in 90% of the cases of bronchial foreign bodies, but only 32% of those in the laryngotracheal area. Of the foreign bodies removed, 98 1/2% were done by laryngoscopy, tracheoscopy, and/or bronchoscopy. Complications were involved in 6% of the cases, including one death. History of recurrent intractable pneumonia should make one consider a foreign body in the airway. Removal of one foreign body does not exclude the existence of another. The condition may be fatal; thus immediate removal of the foreign body is mandatory.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / surgery*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / complications
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnosis
  • Foreign Bodies / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Male
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Time Factors