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Ingested foreign bodies and food impactions in adults

George Triadafilopoulos, MD
Section Editor
John R Saltzman, MD, FACP, FACG, FASGE, AGAF
Deputy Editor
Shilpa Grover, MD, MPH, AGAF


Accidental foreign body or large food bolus ingestion occurs primarily in children and in edentulous or mentally impaired older adults. Food (typically meat) bolus impaction above a pre-existing esophageal stricture or ring is by far the most common cause of esophageal body obstruction in adults; by comparison, the majority of foreign bodies in children (76 percent in one large series) are coins [1]. Other causes include intentional ingestion in psychiatric patients or prison inmates [2-4] and, rarely, foreign body impaction as a complication of pill ingestion [5,6].

Common foreign body ingestions include [7]:

Fish and chicken bones

Medication packaging


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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 07, 2016.
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