Sunday, September 26, 2010

Things Growing in Lungs



Last month an elderly man in Massachusetts developed a collapsed lung and pneumonia. Usually this means an undiagnosed cancer is lurking.  Imagine his relief and surprise to find out it was a pea growing in his lung.  That little accidentally inhaled pea started sprouting.  It seems that odd things found in lungs is not all that rare.  The trachea and the esophagus are really side by side and it is easy to "aspirate" and have food, liquid or objects head into the trachea and then to the bronchus, where it should not be.

What other things have been found in the bronchi and lungs?  One surgeon found a belly button ring.  Fishbones as well as nuts, beans, little candies or food particles are easily inhaled into the bronchial tubes.   Balloons are common as are hot dogs and even small toys.  Even partial dentures are found and many times the elderly person didn't know where they lost it.

Children are especially susceptible to foreign body aspiration. 90% of all incidents happen in children under age 4. Small lithium "button" batteries are dangerous for children and are often swallowed.  The national Capital Poison Control Center even has a special 24-hour hotline for battery ingestion cases at 202-625-3333.  Swallowing one of these batteries is a medical emergency.

What is the most common foreign body (after food)  that gets stuck in children?  You guessed it...coins.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

What can be done to help the child who swallowed the battery?

Toni Brayer, MD said...

Anon: It needs to be surgically removed.

me said...

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doctors online

Kate said...

I've seen an elderly man aspirate a partial plate denture into the right main stem bronchus. He developed fever and malaise/weakness and was taken to the ER where a chest film told the story. The denture was removed by bronchoscopy the same day and he recovered completely with a course of antibiotics. He was 90 years old at the time.

http://aheadofthewave.blogspot.com/2007/09/inhaling-teeth.html

tracy said...

Great X-Rays! (Do you even call them that anymore? i know they are viewed on a computer....).

KM said...

Very strange coincidence happened this morning when I was eating breakfast and I was about to swallow but felt something that didn't feel right, and thought about reading your blog last night so I stopped myself from swallowing to find out, a piece of my tooth had broken off.

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Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

It's lucky this patient didn't swallow an acorn!

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