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foreign body in throat

Foreign body in the throat is most commonly seen in children usually less than 4 yrs of age and in adults with alcoholic intoxicated people. It can also happen due to any accidental incident.

The commonest foreign bodies found in the throat are safety pins, coins, nails, fish bone, meat etc.

Foreign body in the throat may go into the food pipe (oesophagus) or the wind pipe.

In the food pipe, it may get stuck at the posterior part of the tongue, anterior pillar, tonsillar fossa, pyriform fossa or oesophagus.

In the wind pipe, it may go into larynx, trachea or bronchi.

The symptoms are as follows:

  • The patient may develop choking
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Pain in the throat
  • Difficulty in breathing, swallowing
  • Dysphonia (difficulty in speech)

If it is left unattended, then it may lead to complications which include Obstruction of airway, infection, abscess formation, trauma/ injury to nearby structures.

Investigations done are X Ray (neck, chest), CT Scan and Thoracoscopy.


Foreign body in the throat is an emergency condition and the patient should consult an ENT specialist immediately to avoid further complications.

The treatment procedure may involve:

  • Endoscopic removal of the foreign body.
  • Emergency tracheostomy done if the foreign body obstructs the air passage completely.
  • Surgery like incision and drainage of retropharyngeal or lateral pharyngeal abscess in chronic cases of foreign body in the throat which has become infected.

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