Foreign Bodies

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Foreign bodies are a frequent radiographic finding. Both adults and children accidentally and deliberately ingest, insert, or inject themselves (or others) with all sorts of interesting foreign objects. Patients with foreign body ingestions or insertions generally fall into four broad categories: (1) children; (2) mentally handicapped or retarded persons; (3) adults with “unusual” sexual behaviors; and (4) “normal” adults and children.

Children usually are not “repeat offenders,” whereas mentally handicapped or retarded persons frequently are. The latter individuals may be seen multiple times for foreign body ingestions and insertions. Normal adults may sometimes be subject to foreign body injuries because they are engaged in criminal activities, or because they are subjected to spouse abuse or child abuse.

The purpose of this lesson is to describe the categories of foreign bodies and their probable sites found in children and adults; also to call attention to the radiopacity of specific foreign bodies to determine which imaging methods are applicable.

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