Small parts swallowed: First aid for dangerous foreign bodies in the body

Foreign bodies can cause severe damage
Small parts accidentally swallowed, e.g. a nail or a button cell battery can cause serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract. The same applies to larger chunks of food stuck in the throat. Those affected should therefore definitely consult a doctor. A new guideline shows how foreign bodies can be gently removed from the body.

Small parts are swallowed quickly
Whether a marble, the cap of a felt-tip pen or toys: small children in particular can quickly swallow small parts. Are these batteries, magnets or pointed, long objects such as a nail or a sewing needle, dangerous damage to the gastrointestinal tract can quickly occur. This is pointed out by the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) in a current release.

If food is stuck, see a doctor immediately
In such a case, those affected should not hesitate, but should definitely go to a doctor. This also applies if large pieces of food get stuck in the esophagus, according to the DGVS. "Adults are most likely to come to the emergency room because of a piece of meat stuck in the esophagus, while children tend to focus on swallowed coins or toys," reports the chairman of the DGVS, Professor Dr. med. Alexander Meining.

According to a survey from the United States, about 13 out of 100,000 adults a year would see a doctor for stuck food, according to the company. And that is important, because "if the esophagus is completely closed, it can cause serious damage to the mucous membrane," says Meining, who heads the endoscopy department at the Clinic for Internal Medicine at the Ulm University Hospital.

Foreign bodies can be recovered endoscopically
However, doctors can remedy this by carefully pushing the foreign body into the stomach using an endoscope. The cause of the narrowing of the esophagus, which is usually inflammation, is then clarified, reports the DGVS.

However, if the swallowed part has already passed through the esophagus, it is important to weigh it up. The size and shape of the object determine whether or not intervention is made, the expert explains. Small, round things like a coin would therefore pose a rather low risk, since it is usually eliminated naturally without consequence.

Most objects leave the body with bowel movements
"Around 80 to 90 percent of the foreign bodies find their way outside together with the food porridge," says Meining, according to the message. About a fifth could be removed endoscopically. Only in very rare cases, e.g. when an operation is necessary if the object cannot be reached with the endoscope or if damage has already been caused.

Batteries and magnets must be removed immediately
A new guideline of the European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, short "ESGE") stipulates according to the DGVS that in the case of pointed, sharp or long things the exact location is determined with the help of an X-ray and if possible within 24 Hours away with the endoscope.

Likewise, button batteries should not remain in the body, since toxic substances leak from them and can damage the mucous membrane. Magnets would also have to be retrieved as quickly as possible. Because these can stick together in the body and thus e.g. Pinch tissue and cause life-threatening injuries.

Pay attention to possible warning signals
The new guideline provides clues as to which situation should be dealt with and how, but ultimately the doctor must always assess the individual case, says Meining. "Especially with swallowed objects it is important that the doctor and patient are attentive and recognize and correctly classify possible symptoms such as gagging, vomiting, pain or discomfort," emphasizes the expert. (No)

Author and source information

Video: CPR Kids - Foreign bodies otherwise known as stuff kids shove into their noseearsany other hole! (January 2022).