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Surgically treated perforations of the gastrointestinal tract caused by ingested foreign bodies

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Abstract Objective 

Intestinal perforation due to foreign body (FB) ingestion is rare (1%). We describe our experience in treating these lesions surgically. Method 

From 1995 to 2006, data were collected prospectively in 33 patients (18 women and 15 men; mean age 64 years) operated on for intestinal perforation due to an ingested FB. The type of object, preoperative diagnosis, perforation site, treatment, morbidity and mortality were reviewed. Results 

Foreign body ingestion was predominantly involuntary (88%). The mean time from ingestion to perforation was 10.4 days. The most frequently ingested objects were dietary FB (n =21) and toothpicks (n =6). The most frequent predisposing factors were dentures or an orthodontic appliance (73%). The most common preoperative diagnoses were acute abdomen of uncertain origin (n =7), acute appendicitis (n =7) and acute diverticulitis (n =5). Pneumoperitoneum was observed in 10 cases. The diagnosis was reached during laparotomy in 30 (91%) cases. The most frequent perforation site was the colorectal region (n =18, 54.5%), followed by the terminal ileum (n =7, 21.2%); intraperitoneal perforation was the most common (n =30, 91%). All cases had abdominal contamination and 22 (66.7%) had diffuse peritonitis. Treatment was always by surgery and antibiotics. Thirteen patients required a colostomy. Morbidity was 57.6% (n =19) and mortality 6.1% (n =2). Conclusion 

Intestinal perforation by a foreign body is rare and normally affects the sigmoid colon, rectum or distal ileum. Dentures are a common risk factor. Patients are rarely aware of foreign body ingestion. Dietary FB and toothpicks are the most commonly ingested objects. Treatment consists of surgery and antibiotics. Appendicitis and acute diverticulitis should be considered in the differential diagnosis.

Keywords: Ingested foreign body; acute abdomen; gastrointestinal perforation; surgical removal

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departments of Colorectal and General Surgery 2: Intensive Care Unit, Hospital Universitari de Girona Dr Josep Trueta, Girona, Spain

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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