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Foreign Body Removal

Foreign Body Removal

What are Foreign Bodies?

Foreign bodies are objects inside your body that do not belong there. You may get a foreign body either by inhaling or swallowing it or from an injury. They can be found in any part of your body such as the ears, nose, eyes, and airways. Foreign body episodes are more common in children.

Small foreign objects such as a splinter do not cause serious harm. Swallowed or inhaled foreign bodies usually require emergency medical care as they may cause bowel obstruction or choke.

If you or your child are experiencing discomfort or difficulty breathing due to a foreign object, it is necessary to seek immediate medical assistance. Mercy Emergency Room has well trained ER physicians who can help with removal of foreign objects obstructing the airway, causing difficulty breathing and bluish discoloration as well as foreign bodies lodged in the eye and other parts of the body.

What are the Causes of Foreign Bodies Entry?

Some of the causes include:

  • A young child’s natural curiosity to put small objects in their ears, nose or mouth leading to objects getting stuck
  • Accidental lodging of a foreign object in the body such as a toothpick or a nail
  • Disorders like Pica, a behavioral disorder that makes a person compulsively eat non-food items that have no nutritional value
  • A foreign object inserted in the rectum during sex.

Some of the commonly swallowed or inserted objects include:

  • Food 
  • Pencil erasers
  • Crayon tips
  • Small toys or toy parts
  • Buttons
  • Seeds
  • Small batteries
  • Insects
  • Pebbles

What are the Common Symptoms?

Common symptoms related to foreign bodies include:

  • Mild to severe pain
  • Nasal drainage for objects that get inserted into the nose
  • Choking, coughing and wheezing if a foreign body is stuck in the airway
  • Breathing difficulty if a foreign body blocks an airway 

How are Foreign Bodies Diagnosed?

Your doctor diagnoses the presence of a foreign body by reviewing you or your child’s symptoms and medical history and performing a physical examination. Imaging tests such as an X-ray may also be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. 

How are Foreign Bodies Treated?

The ER team will determine the best way to safely remove the foreign body based on its location. This may involve any of the following methods:

  • Using a suction machine to pull out the object from the nose or ear
  • Inserting a bronchoscope to remove an object from the airway
  • Inserting an endoscope to remove objects from the rectum or stomach
  • Using magnets to remove metal objects
  • Surgery is recommended if other methods don’t work