Esophageal foreign bodies: safety and efficacy of Foley catheter extraction of coins

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1997 Feb;168(2):443-6. doi: 10.2214/ajr.168.2.9016224.


Objective: Continued controversy over the role of fluoroscopically guided Foley catheter removal of esophageal foreign bodies has limited the use of this technique despite its significant economic advantages. We reviewed our experience for the safety, efficacy, and applicability of this technique with pediatric patients who had swallowed coins.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed 10 years of experience with pediatric patients who had undergone fluoroscopically guided Foley catheter removal of coins. All the pediatric patients with a suspected esophageal foreign body were first evaluated by plain film radiography. Foley catheter extraction was attempted when a radiopaque coin was seen and the patient lacked signs of significant esophageal edema resulting in tracheal compromise. During the 10 years covered by our review, 14 pediatric radiologists with specific training in the Foley catheter technique were involved in such removals. A separate review (of consecutive pediatric patients who had a history of or symptoms suggesting ingestion of a foreign body) focused on the percentage of these patients in which the Foley catheter technique was used.

Results: Of the 337 coin extractions attempted using a Foley catheter, coin extraction was successful in 322 (96%) of 337 patients. No complications were encountered. Our focused review found 422 consecutive patients who had undergone radiography to rule out foreign bodies. A radiopaque object was found in 249 (59%) of 422 patients. Of these 249 objects, 208 (84%) were ingested coins. Of 208 coins, 123 (59%) were retained in the esophagus; of these 123 coins retained in the esophagus, 116 (94%) were amenable to fluoroscopically guided Foley catheter extraction.

Conclusion: Fluoroscopically guided Foley catheter extraction of retained coins in pediatric patients who lack evidence of significant esophageal edema causing tracheal compromise is a safe and efficacious technique. It should be considered the technique of choice for such extractions.

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization* / adverse effects
  • Catheterization* / instrumentation
  • Catheterization* / methods
  • Child, Preschool
  • Esophagus*
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging
  • Foreign Bodies / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety