Annals of Case Reports (ISSN: 2574-7754)

Article / case report

"Unusual Upper Airway Symptoms, Think of Foreign Body"

Boudour Louai Khayer1*, Ethar Mustafa Malik2, Munzer Abdulha di Manzlgi3


1Pediatric Senior Specialist Registrar, Emergency Department Dubai Hospital, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United    Arab Emirates

2Pediatric Specialist Registrar, Latifa Hospital, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

3ENT Senior Specialist Registrar, Dubai Hospital, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


*Corresponding author: Khayer BL, Pediatric Senior Specialist Registrar, Emergency Department Dubai Hospital, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Email:


Received Date: 22 February, 2017; Accepted Date: 21 March, 2017; Published Date: 28 March, 2017




Foreign Body (FB) aspiration is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in pediatric age group. The majority of victims are toddlers between the ages of 1-3 years. The FB can completely obstruct the airway leading to instant death. The smaller objects can pass and lodge commonly in the main right bronchus but it can trapped anywhere even in the larynx. Most common objects are food, but young child can choke with any tiny object. The history is essential in making the diagnosis but it can be negative thus highly suspicion is vital in such cases.

The laryngeal vestibule was covered with granulous tissue obstructing the vocal cords (Figure4). Child was intubated with the help of rigid bronchoscope and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. There was significant resolution of the granulous tissue within two days and patient extubated uneventfully.

Patient was followed up in the clinic after 2 weeks, she was asymptomatic and doing well. Parents were contacted two months later; they reported significant improvement in appetite and dramatic changes in speech development.



Children have a tendency to explore new entities by their mouths, their airways are small, the air force, generated by their cough, is less effective in dislodging the trapped objects. These factors put pediatric age group at high risk of aspiration especially those younger than 3years [1].

If the FB did not obstruct the airway totally, there will be second stage when the initial symptoms will minimize. If the FB was not diagnosed and removed at this stage, in the absence of significant history, complications follow and give wide range of symptoms [1] as in our presented case.

In one review of laryngotracheal foreign bodies, choking history was absent in 10% of cases [2]. Literature review of similar cases with delayed diagnosis, [3,4] revealed that children passed to the second stage although the FB was lodged in the larynx. Reason for this could be: foreign bodies partially obstructed their airways due to the irregular shape of them.

Neck x-rays can help in the diagnosis of FB but as most foreign bodies are radiolucent, the bronchoscopy remains the method of choice for both diagnosis and removal of the FB [5].

Reliable history and detailed physical examination in the absence of typical response to the treatment of upper airway obstruction symptoms can strongly suggest the diagnosis of a FB impaction. In such cases, neck x-ray and bronchoscopy should be considered in approaching the patient.


Why should an emergency physician be aware of this?

  1. Airway foreign bodies are common in pediatric patients and diagnosis should be considered in any atypical presentation of upper airy way obstruction even in the absence of choking history.
  2. Although uncommon site, foreign bodies can lodge partially in the larynx giving symptoms of upper airway obstruction. In such case, neck x ray may support the diagnosis of FB but the bronchoscopy is the only method to exclude it.
  3. If they were overlooked, foreign bodies in pediatric airways can carry significant risk of morbidity, so early diagnosis is crucial and if suspected, x-ray and bronchoscopy should be strongly considered.

Figure 1: Lateral Neck X-Ray Shows the Foreign Body.


Figure 2: Anteroposterior Neck X-Ray.


Figure 3: Foreign Body After Removal.


Figure 4: Laryngoscope reveals the granular tissue in the larynx.




Citation: Khaye BL, Malik EM, Manzlgi MA (2017)Unusual Upper Airway Symptoms, Think of Foreign Body. Ann Case Rep: ACRT-141. DOI: 10.29011/2574-7754/100041

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