Foreign bodies in upper gastrointestinal tract and urgent endoscopic interventions – review of a ten-year period

  • Pavel Skok
  • Andreja Ocepek
  • Davorin Ćeranić
  • Milan Pocajt
Keywords: foreign bodies, upper gastrointestinal tract, endoscopy, extraction, complications


Background: Foreign bodies in the upper digestive tube are rarely the cause of an urgent condition in gastroenterology. They usually enter the digestive tube during nutrition or by mistake. However, certain groups of the population such as convicts or psychiatric patients tend to swallow them intentionally. The authors aim was to assess the percentage of patients in which urgent endoscopic investigation revealed true foreign bodies in the upper digestive tube, to evaluate the success of endoscopic procedures and the resolution of eventual complications.

Patients and methods: The study includes patients in which urgent endoscopic investigations of the upper digestive tract were performed in a 10-year period (1 January 1994 to 31 December 2003).

Results: Altogether 6416 patients were investigated, mean age 59.3 years, SD ± 17.2 years, range 1–106 years, 2452 females and 3964 males. In 51 patients, 0.8% of all subjects, foreign bodies were detected in the esophagus or stomach. In these patients a total of 65 endoscopic investigations were performed, in 94% the foreign bodies were removed endoscopically (48/51 patients), in three cases the endoscopic procedures were not successful. Among the foreign bodies removed were various metal or plastic objects: coins, keys, screws, hooks, batteries, razor blades, needles, parts of kitchen, toilet or writing utensils, lighters, buttons, toys, a toothbrush as well as impacted pieces of bone. In the patients with successful endoscopic removal of the objects, no significant complications were noted. In 3 patients (3/48, 6.3%) only mild hemorrhages from the region of the esophagogastric junction were observed.

Conclusions: The technological development of endoscopic instruments made it possible to carry out different therapeutic procedures. The method has proved successful in removing foreign bodies from the upper digestive tube. Various factors affect the success of the procedure, the more important being adequate equipment, the experience and patience of the investigator and the assisting nurse, as well as the patient’s understanding of the procedure and his or her cooperation.


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How to Cite
Skok P, Ocepek A, Ćeranić D, Pocajt M. Foreign bodies in upper gastrointestinal tract and urgent endoscopic interventions – review of a ten-year period. ZdravVestn [Internet]. 1 [cited 27Jan.2020];74(7-8). Available from:
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