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Treatment of aural foreign bodies in children.

Pediatrics 1998 April
OBJECTIVE: To determine the proper treatment of children and adolescents with foreign bodies of the external auditory canal (EAC).

DESIGN: Retrospective case series.

SETTING: Specialty care referral hospital.

PATIENTS: All patients younger than 18 years of age who presented in the emergency ward or office setting with a foreign body of the EAC during a 5-year period.

RESULTS: One hundred ninety-one patients with aural foreign bodies were identified. Age at presentation ranged from 10 months to 17 years with 141 patients (74%) younger than 8 years old. Twenty-seven different objects were encountered with pebbles, beads, insects, and plastic toys the most common. Fifty-seven (30%) of the patients required surgical removal of the aural foreign body under general anesthesia.

CONCLUSION: Adequate immobilization and proper instrumentation allow the uncomplicated removal of many EAC foreign bodies in the pediatric population. The use of general anesthesia is preferred in very young children and in children of any age with aural foreign bodies whose contour, composition, or location predispose to traumatic removal in the ambulatory setting. Criteria for otolaryngologic referral and consideration of operative microscopic removal are outlined.

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