Esophageal foreign bodies

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 1998 May;13(5):494-8. doi: 10.1016/s1010-7940(98)00068-2.


Objective: A retrospective review was performed on 180 patients from 1975 to 1997 to evaluate the diagnosis, and management of esophageal foreign bodies.

Methods: All patients except two were symptomatic and 145 of them were younger than 14 years of age. Plain films were performed in every patient with a suspected esophageal foreign body (EFB). In all patients, rigid esophagoscopy was done under general anesthesia once the diagnosis of impacted EFB is made.

Results: Fifty-five percent of the foreign bodies were coins. In children, the majority of impacted esophageal foreign bodies were located at the level of the cricopharyngeus muscle while in adults the site of impaction was the lower esophageal sphincter. The most common symptoms were vomiting and or regurgitation. Of the 180 EFBs encountered, 169 were extracted endoscopically, five were pushed into the stomach, five were not found, and one patient needed cervicotomy. There were no deaths in this series. Predisposing factors were found in 15 patients. Fifteen patients (8.3%) had benign strictures. In ten patients (5.5%), minor complications were encountered, none of which were esophagoscopically related. Alternative diagnostic and therapeutic modalities are discussed.

Conclusions: All patients with a history of suspected foreign body ingestion should have direct endoscopic examination. If the EFB is not detected a thorough radiographic examination, including CT scan, should be performed to detect a possible intra- or extraluminal object. Preservation of the airway is regarded to be the most important consideration in esophageal foreign body management.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Esophagus*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies* / diagnosis
  • Foreign Bodies* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies