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Alive in the Airways: Live Endobronchial Foreign Bodies

Syed Rizwan Ali, MB, BS; Atul C. Mehta, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

aDepartment of Critical Care Medicine, Bombay Hospital, Indore, India

bDepartment of Pulmonary Medicine, Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Atul C. Mehta, MD, FCCP, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44195


Copyright 2016, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2017;151(2):481-491. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.10.041
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Aspiration of a foreign body into the lower airways is a common occurrence and can cause significant morbidity and mortality in humans. Most foreign bodies of the tracheobronchial tree are inanimate. However, the medical literature includes reports of live foreign bodies in the airways. Fish, leeches, and roundworms are the most common live foreign bodies of the lower airways. Fishermen are more prone to experience a live fish aspiration, whereas substandard conditions may expose individuals to leech and roundworm infestations. The dangers of and the approaches to the management of these foreign bodies differ from those associated with aspirated inanimate objects. The focus of this review of the medical literature was on live foreign body aspiration and its management.

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