What the possible complications of pediatric foreign body ingestion?

Updated: Oct 04, 2018
  • Author: Gregory P Conners, MD, MPH, MBA, FAAP, FACEP; Chief Editor: Dale W Steele, MD, MS  more...
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See the list below:

  • Esophageal foreign bodies

    • Mucosal abrasion

    • Esophageal stricture/obstruction

    • Retropharyngeal abscess

    • Failure to thrive

    • Esophageal perforation may lead to mediastinitis, pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, aortoesophageal fistula formation (and resulting hemorrhage), and tracheal compression.

  • Stomach/lower GI tract foreign bodies

    • Mucosal abrasion

    • Intestinal obstruction

  • Intestinal perforation may lead to peritonitis and sepsis.

  • Button (disk) batteries: Recent data suggest that ingestion of button batteries has become an increasingly important cause of morbidity and mortality in children, likely because of button batteries' increased availability and the increased production of electrical current in modern lithium batteries of ≥20 mm diameter. Children 4 years or younger who have swallowed lithium batteries ≥20 mm diameter are at greatest risk of complication. [15]  A study by Lee et al that included 5 cases of pediatric lithium battery ingestion, found that all cases had moderate to major complications to their esophagus or gastric mucosa, even in children who did not exhibit symptoms post ingestion. Urgent removal within 24 hours is recommended for even the asymptomatic child with a known lithium battery ingestion. [35]

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