Foreign body aspiration is the act of inhaling or breathing foreign bodies into the respiratory tract.
The term is particularly relevant in emergency medicine, but also in the area of anesthesiology.
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The aspiration of dental instruments and materials represents a critical situation that must always be classified as an emergency.
- Frequent touching of the throat by the distressed patient
- Facial paleness followed by cyanosis
- Choking, vomiting
- Acute respiratory distress (dyspnea)
- Respiratory depression or arrest due to airway obstruction (asphyxia)
- Laryngeal edema
- Cardiac arrest is possible
- Risk of pleural perforation and pneumothorax
The risk of pleural perforation and pneumothorax is especially high after aspiration of thin, sharp instruments.
|All efforts should be made to remove the foreign body immediately!
Delaying the diagnosis of foreign body aspiration increases the incidence of complications such as bronchial stricture, local bronchiectasis, pulmonary abscess, and pneumonia.
The efficacy of bronchoscopy may be considerably impaired if the time to extraction of the object exceeds 24 hours (Zitzmann et al. 2000).
Immediately after a foreign body disappears in the throat of a patient:
- Prop up the patients upper body at a 20 to 30-degree angle with the head reclined
- Administer oxygen (6 L/min) via a nasal tube
The air that can still be inhaled should be well oxygenated.
- Ask the patient to cough; aspirated foreign objects can often be ejected in this manner, especially if they have not passed the level of the glottis (Zitzmann et al. 2000)
If coughing leads to choking, respiratory difficulties or inspiratory stridor, the foreign body is already caudal to the larynx and can no longer be coughed up.
- Heimlich maneuver
The Heimlich maneuver is performed only in cases where there is total obstruction of the airways and the patient is at risk of choking to death. A foreign body can often be ejected from the throat by forcefully thrusting the abdomen in the direction of the diaphragm to raise the pressure in the tracheobronchial system.
Heimlich maneuver in a sitting patient
||Stand behind the patient and wrap the arms around the patients chest; place the hands in the upper abdominal area just below the costal arch.
Grasp one hand in the other.
Forcefully thrust into the patients abdomen by quickly and sharply pulling the arms back.
Repeatedly thrust the chest and particularly the upper abdominal region to increase the pressure in the chest in order to eject the foreign body from the trachea.
It is best to have a second person inspect the patients throat in order to remove the ejected foreign body either by hand or with a pair of Magills forceps.
The majority of foreign bodies (75%) are detected in the steep and more distal right primary bronchus or right lower lobe bronchus.
- Send the patient to a hospital able to remove the foreign body by bronchoscopy once its position has been identified radiographically
|Whenever an object disappears in the oropharynx, X-rays must be taken to assess the possibility of aspiration regardless of whether [one believes it was] swallowed or aspirated.
To send the patient home under these conditions believing the object was swallowed and is on the natural course to the intestinal tract constitutes negligence and can have life-threatening consequences.
- If the patient falls unconscious
- Tilt the head back and open the mouth by pulling the chin downward and forward.
- Remove all visible obstructions.
- Assess the breathing by the seeing-listening-feeling method.
- Administer two breaths of effective artificial respiration.
- While performing these measures, have someone call an emergency medical service.
- If it is not possible to perform effective artificial respiration:
- Start cardiac massage immediately to dislodge the foreign body.
Start without first assessing the circulatory status.
- After depressing the chest 15 times, examine the mouth for foreign bodies, then try to administer artificial respiration again.
- Once it becomes possible to administer artificial respiration, assess the patients circulatory status.
The following patients have an increased risk of swallowing or aspirating foreign objects (Prakash and Cortese 1994):
- Patients with psychiatric disorders
- Senile, debilitated, nervous and/or hyperactive individuals
- Patients with an extreme gag reflex (Prakash and Cortese 1994)
- Patients with hiatus hernias and symptoms of reflux oesophagitis (impaired swallowing reflex)
- Patients with increased intra-abdominal pressure (e.g., obese or pregnant individuals) may suffer from dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), especially when the upper body is reclining
- Difficult or limited access to the patients head-and-neck region or oral cavity due to anatomic peculiarities, such as barrel chest, microstomia or macroglossia.
- Patients with depressed or impaired central nervous system function (e.g., due to the use of sedatives, tranquilizers or opiates)
- Patients wearing full dentures (reduced tactile perception capacity in the region of the palatinal mucosa) (Maleki and Evans 1970)).