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Foreign Bodies in the Ear as Seen at Kigali University Teaching Hospital in Rwanda

BK Mukara
P Munyarugamba


Background: Foreign bodies (FB) lodged in the ear is a common complaint at emergency departments. FBs range from vegetable such as seeds and grains, non-vegetable such as beads, batteries, cotton wool, toys, stones, folded paper and animate FBs such as ants and cockroaches. A prospective study was carried out in order to determine the type and outcome of FB lodged in the ear, seen at Kigali University Teaching Hospital (KUTH).
Methods: Data from 74 subjects meeting the inclusion criteria was prospectively collected from February to December 2010 in KUTH; a national public referral hospital using a questionnaire prepared for this purpose and analysed using SPSS.

Results: The patients’ ages ranged from 1 to 55 years, with a peak in the 3 years old age group. Males accounted for 54% of the cases. Of the patients who were referred to KUTH, 60.8% had had attempts at extraction of the FB done prior to referral to KUTH. The majority (59.5%) of the patients had sustained no trauma to the ear, 37.8% (28) had sustained trauma to the ear yet the FB was still in-situ. Thirty (41%) of the 74 had the FB removed under general anesthesia in the operating room (OR). Various complications in the ear following removal of the FB were recorded in 41.9%.
Conclusion: The risk of complications following removal of FB ear canal is inversely proportional to the skills of the personnel, number of attempts and availability of equipment. Referral to otolaryngology should be considered if more than one attempt is made, more than one instrument is required to remove the FB or presence of any factor attributed to the FB or the ear canal that renders it difficult to remove in a non ENT setting.