Laryngeal foreign bodies in children: First stop before the right main bronchus


Associate Professor P Robinson, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 3 9349 1289; email:


Abstract:  Laryngeal foreign bodies may produce either complete or incomplete airways obstruction. In complete airways obstruction the presentation is with calamitous respiratory difficulty. However incomplete laryngeal obstruction may present with less severe symptoms, resulting in possible misdiagnosis and confusion with other causes of upper airway obstruction such as infectious croup. This report describes three cases of incomplete laryngeal obstruction secondary to inhaled foreign bodies. In each case, the diagnosis of an inhaled foreign body was initially missed, resulting in delay in diagnosis and in one case prolonged recovery. The importance of considering laryngeal foreign bodies, both in cases of suspected foreign body inhalation and clinical cases of incomplete laryngeal obstruction are discussed.