Tracheobronchial foreign body is rare in adults. Diagnosis is difficult and requires a high index of suspicion. We report 6 cases of tracheobronchial foreign bodies in adults and their removal, as well as a literature review of this topic. Case records, chest radiographs and computed tomographies (CT) of the thorax were reviewed. There were 5 males and 1 female with a median age of 63.5 years. One patient could not protect his airway (tracheostomy). Foreign bodies were sutures (2), vegetable matter like peanuts, vegetables and popcorn (3), and a voice prosthesis. Main symptoms were cough, haemoptysis and breathlessness. There were few signs on physical examination and chest X-rays were not helpful in diagnosis. All patients had fibreoptic bronchoscopy although 3 subsequently required rigid bronchoscopy for foreign body removal. All foreign bodies were successfully removed without any complications.
Gustav Killian reported the first case of bronchoscopic removal of foreign body (FB) from the trachea in 1897. Since then, rigid bronchoscopy under general anaesthesia by the cardiothoracic surgeon has remained the procedure of choice for FB removal in the airways, failing which thoracotomy and bronchotomy is performed.
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