Role of imaging in the assessment of impacted foreign bodies in the hypopharynx and cervical esophagus

Antonio Pinto, Carlo Muzj, Nicola Gagliardi, Fabio Pinto, Francesca Rosa Setola, Mariano Scaglione, Luigia Romano
Seminars in Ultrasound, CT, and MR 2012, 33 (5): 463-70
Impaction of foreign bodies in the upper digestive tract is a serious pathologic condition in ear, nose, and throat practice and is particularly common in children, prisoners, and psychiatric patients. Commonly found objects include fish bones, chicken bones, pieces of glass, dental prostheses, coins, and needles. The goals of the initial patient assessment are to identify the type of object, its location in the gastrointestinal tract, the presence of any associated complications, and the presence of any underlying esophageal conditions. Radiographic evaluation is helpful to confirm the location of foreign bodies and associated complications. Plain films of the neck and chest commonly will show the location of radiopaque objects, such as coins. Both anteroposterior and lateral views are necessary, as some radiopaque objects overlying the vertebral column may only be visible on the lateral view. Multidetector row computed tomography is superior to plain radiographs for the detection of pharyngoesophageal foreign bodies and provide additional crucial information for the management of complicated cases especially related to sharp or pointed ingested foreign bodies.

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