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Foreign Body Aspiration in Childhood: Evaluation of Diagnostic Parameters

Paksu, Sule MD*; Paksu, Muhammet Sukru MD*; Kilic, Mehtap MD; Guner, Sukru Nail MD; Baysal, Kemal MD; Sancak, Recep MD; Ozturk, Fadil MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3182494eb6
Original Articles

Background Foreign body aspiration (FBA) is one of the most important preventable causes of childhood mortality and morbidity.

Objective The aim of this study was to define the clinical and radiological features of FBA and investigate the diagnostic value of various parameters used to diagnose FBA.

Methods The medical records of 147 children who were admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of suspected FBA were examined. The sensitivity and specificity of the parameters used for the diagnosis of FBA and their predictive values were calculated.

Results Of the patients, 75.5% were younger than 3 years, and 61.2% were male. Peak incidence was found in 18 months. A negative bronchoscopy rate of 19.7% was found, and 92.6% of these patients were younger than 3 years. The parameter with the highest diagnostic value was the presence of aspiration history (the sensitivity and positive and negative predictive values were 97%, 89%, and 80%, respectively). No significant difference was found in the classic triad of FBA (sudden onset of cough, wheezing, and unilaterally decreased breath sounds) between patients with and without FBA. The specificity and positive predictive value of the classic triad were high, and the sensitivity and negative predictive value were low (85% and 78%, and 13% and 19%, respectively).

Conclusions Especially, male children younger than 3 years have an increased risk of FBA. Neither clinical symptoms nor the radiological findings alone are sufficiently specific and sensitive in diagnosing FBA. The most important factor for diagnosis is the presence of aspiration history.

From the Departments of *Pediatrics, †Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, and ‡Pediatric Cardiology, Ondokuz Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Muhammet Sukru Paksu, MD, Ondokuz Mayis Universitesi Tıp Fakultesi Cocuk Hastanesi 55139, Samsun, Turkey (e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.