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Foreign Body Ingestions: Managing The Vast Array Of Objects Children Swallow

June 2005

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Abstract

CASES such as these are common. Thousands of children present to US EDs every year for foreign body ingestion. Although a great deal is known about the management of foreign body ingestion in children, there are still large gaps in the literature, leading to variations in diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

In this issue of Pediatric Emergency Medicine PRACTICE, a detailed review of foreign body ingestions will be presented. In order to put this topic into context, it is important to define ingested foreign bodies as those that are eaten or swallowed. Ingested foreign bodies, therefore, enter the gastrointestinal tract. At times, food may act as a foreign body, when the food “causes trouble.” This stands in contrast to aspirated foreign bodies that are inhaled. These foreign bodies are therefore within some portion of the respiratory tract. Although it may not always be entirely clear whether a foreign object has entered the gastrointestinal tract or the respiratory tract once the object leaves a child’s mouth, many times it is obvious. Being aware of this distinction between ingested foreign bodies and aspirated foreign bodies will be helpful while reviewing this issue of Pediatric Emergency Medicine PRACTICE. It should be borne in mind, also, that this issue makes recommendations for the ED management of ingested foreign bodies. The optimal care of children presenting to other practice settings for suspected foreign body ingestion may warrant a slightly different approach.

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