External Auditory Canal Foreign Body Extraction Outcomes

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To compare pediatric external auditory canal (EAC) foreign body extraction outcomes by clinical setting and identify factors predictive of successful removal.


Retrospective review of pediatric patients with EAC foreign bodies to a single institution emergency department (ED) and otolaryngology clinic (OTO) between January 2010 and April 2015. Patient characteristics, foreign body type, removal attempts, instrumentation utilized, and complications were evaluated with respect to clinical setting and patient outcome.


In all, 1197 patients with EAC foreign bodies were identified, 759 (63%) of whom presented primarily to the ED. Successful removal was achieved in OTO in 92.9% of cases and the ED in 67.9% of cases. Beads and spherical objects had the overall lowest rates of successful removal. Likelihood of removal decreased significantly after one unsuccessful attempt. Complications were reported in 35.7% of patients undergoing removal in the ED and 5.0% of patients undergoing removal in the otolaryngology clinic.


Patients commonly present to the ED for removal of EAC foreign bodies. Referral to an otolaryngologist is recommended if the object is spherical or after one unsuccessful attempt at removal.

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