Fishbones in the Upper Aerodigestive Tract: A Review of 24 Cases of Adult Patients

Document Type: Original


1 Department of ENT – Head and Neck Surgery, Military Training Hospital Percy,101, Avenue Henri Barbusse 92140, Clamart, France.

2 Emergency Department, Fire Fighting Brigade of Paris, Place Jules Renard 75017, Paris, France.


We present a retrospective study series and discussion of the current literature to discuss the management of fishbones in the upper aerodigestive tract.
Materials and Methods:
From January 2013 to July 2016, all patients referred to our referral center because of a fishbone in the upper aerodigestive tract were analysed.
Of the 24 patients, 95% of them reported discomfort in the throat. It was noted that 58% of physical examinations and nasofibroscopy results were normal. Ten fishbones were found in the upper aerodigestive tract. They were removed by foreign body forceps or by endoscopy depending on the location. Foreign body-related complications were not observed. Ten patients with no identifiable fishbone had no symptoms after 48 hours. Other patients, including the 10 patients with the fishbone removed, were asymptomatic after 10 days.
From our experience, we recommend a systematic nasofibroscopy. If it is normal, the patient is assessed at 48h. The complementary investigation by CT scan and/or oesophagoscopy must be reserved in cases of suspicion of oesophageal localization or complication. Otherwise, rigid or flexible endoscopy may be performed when laryngoscopy is unsuccessful or for the treatment of foreign bodies lodged below this area.


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