Predictors of radiolucent foreign body aspiration

Vincent E. Mortellaro, Corey Iqbal, Roxanna Fu, Heather Curtis, Frankie B. Fike, Shawn D. St. Peter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Children frequently present for suspected foreign body aspiration, many have mild symptoms and/or negative radiographs raising the question of a radiolucent foreign body aspiration. Method Retrospective review of patients having bronchoscopy for suspected radiolucent foreign body aspiration from 2000 to 2010 collecting demographics, history, hospital presentation, radiographic, and operative details. Pearson's correlation was used between event history, presentation, radiographic details and bronchoscopically identified foreign body with P value < 0.01. Results 138 patients, mean age 2.6 years, mean weight 15.6 kg, 68% male. Event symptoms: 81% witnessed events, 64% wheezing, 43% coughing, 39% choking, 6% stridor, and 0.7% lethargy. Hospital presentation: 70% persistent symptoms, wheezing 56%, coughing 15%, desaturations 11%, stridor 7%, choking 4%, and lethargy 1%. 92% of patients had a chest x-ray; air trapping found in 38%, and lung collapse in 21%. 2 patients received CT scans; 1 had lung collapse. Bronchoscopy identified foreign bodies in 93% of patients: food 68%, plastic 18%, non-descript 11%, rocks 3%. No correlations between event symptoms, hospital presentation, radiographs and foreign body presence. Conclusion Event history, hospital presentation, and radiographs are insufficient in proving the absence of a radiolucent foreign body. Patients with suspected radiolucent foreign body aspiration should undergo diagnostic bronchoscopy prior to discharge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1867-1870
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aspiration
  • Foreign body
  • Inhalation
  • Radiolucent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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