Pan African Medical Journal

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Aural foreign body extraction in children: A double-edged sword

O Olajuyin, OS Olatunya


Introduction: Foreign body insertion into the ear in children is common world-wide. The goal of this work is to describe the procedural complications of aural foreign body extraction in children.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of records of children with aural foreign bodies was conducted. Patients' bio data, type of foreign bodies, referrals, techniques of removal and complications were extracted from the case files. The foreign bodies were categorized into graspable and non-graspable objects. Patients with complications caused directly by the foreign body were excluded.

Results: There were 136 cases. Eighty-seven (64.0%) were males while forty-nine (36.0%) were females. Their age range from 5 days to 16 years with 109 (80.2%) aged below 8 years. Eighty-nine (65.4%) and 47 (34.6%) cases were treated by otolaryngologists and nonotolaryngologists with a complication rate of 15.7% and 68.1% respectively. One case suffered severe hearing loss following complicated attempt at removing foreign body in the only hearing ear. Overall, the complication rate was higher (44.4%) with removal of non-graspable than (28.6%) with graspable  objects.

Conclusion: Procedural complication is an ever-present hazard of aural foreign body extraction in children. Its occurrence can be prevented or largely reduced if health care-givers know their limitation based on their clinical skills and acquaint themselves with established criteria for referral. As a rule, we suggest that, foreign body in the only hearing ear and failed attempted first removal should be considered criteria for otolaryngologic referral.
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