Foreign bodies in the upper airways: the experience of two Italian hospitals


OBJECTIVE: To study the pattern of foreign bodies in the upper airways as emerging from the hospital records in the Bologna and Siena hospitals in Italy 1997-2002. METHODS: A retrospective review of hospital records was performed using a standardized protocol. All injuries with ICD9 (International Classification of Diseases, 9'h revision) codes ranging from 931 to 934 which occurred in children age 0-14 were considered for the database. RESULTS: One hundred ninety seven patients were included in the database with a diagnosis of Foreign Bodies (FB) over the study period, 78 with ICD931, 105 with ICD932, 12 with ICD933 and 2 with ICD934 discharge diagnosis. Of the 197 patients, 51.90% of the patients were males and the 48.10% were female. Median age was 4 (2, 6). At the moment of the injury, the child was eating (11%), playing (83%) or studying (4%) or cleaning ears (2%). The child was supervised by an adult in doing his/her activities at the moment of injury in the 84.2% of the cases. The child reached the hospital using always private transport (100%), never by using an emergency transport (0%). Most commonly, FB were extracted in ambulatory (95.4%), more rarely using an endoscopic procedure (4.1%), and never using surgery. Hospitalization was required in the 0.5% of cases (1). CONCLUSIONS: Our study showed the substantial epidemiological similarity of the Italian data with the experience of other center in the world. The burden of chocking was very limited in our country, as proven by the limited access to emergency and more invasive procedures. Nevertheless, some consideration can be made from the preventive point of view. Quite surprisingly, the majority of injuries occurred under the supervision of an adult in playing or recreational activities.