Foreign Body Aspiration

Published on 21/03/2015 by admin

Filed under Pediatrics

Last modified 21/03/2015

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Chapter 25 Foreign Body Aspiration


Foreign body aspiration refers to the lodgment of an object or substance in the airway. The foreign body tends to lodge most often in the cricopharyngeal area because of the strong propulsive pharyngeal muscles that move it to this location. Obstruction may be partial or complete. Complete airway obstruction usually occurs in the upper airway and is life threatening. Most objects aspirated by children are small enough to pass through the larynx and trachea and lodge in either of the main bronchi. Examples of items may be poorly chewed hot dog pieces, peanuts, small toys, coins, or disk (button cell) batteries. The right main bronchus is a more common site because it is larger, receives greater airflow, and has a straighter line of entry than the left bronchus. The mechanisms of airway obstruction depend on the site of obstruction and whether the foreign body is partially or completely obstructing an airway. Atelectasis occurs distal to the area where air can no longer enter. Air trapping or hyperinflation occurs when air is inhaled but can be only partially exhaled.

In many cases, foreign bodies are spontaneously expelled from the tracheobronchial tree, and symptoms that persist are from residual irritation and bronchial edema. When foreign body aspiration is diagnosed quickly and the object or substance is removed in a prompt manner, the condition follows a benign course. Aspiration of foreign bodies containing saturated fats, such as peanuts, is more problematic because of the resulting irritation and inflammation of mucosal tissue. The longer a foreign body remains lodged in place, the more complications can develop, related to increasing edema, inflammation, and threat of infection.