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Foreign Body, Nasal

Foreign Body, Nasal is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Object impacted in the nasal cavity
  • Most common site of foreign body insertion in children
  • Type of foreign body limited only by nostril size
  • Population at risk:
    • Children between 2–6 yr most common
    • Mental retardation
    • Psychiatric illness
  • Causes of worsening impaction and difficulties with removal:
    • Organic material may expand if moistened
    • Mucosal swelling over time
  • Complications:
    • Sinusitis is the most common complication
    • Foreign bodies may migrate into the sinuses
    • Septal perforation
    • Bronchial aspiration
    • High risk of complications with button batteries:
      • Ischemic mucosa
      • Turbinate or septal damage
      • Saddle-nose deformity


  • Food
  • Beans
  • Seeds
  • Beads
  • Rocks
  • Paper
  • Pieces of toys
  • Sponge pieces
  • Vegetable matter
  • Insects and live worms
  • Button batteries:
    • High risk of complications compared with other foreign bodies (tissue necrosis, septal perforation, saddle nose); require rapid removal
  • Magnets:
    • Used to mimic nasal piercing
    • Often imbedded in nasal tissue, leading to difficult removal
    • May cause intestinal perforation if swallowed, especially newer high-powered neodymium magnets
  • Glass fragments

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Foreign Body, Nasal." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307587/all/Foreign_Body__Nasal.
Foreign Body, Nasal. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307587/all/Foreign_Body__Nasal. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Foreign Body, Nasal. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307587/all/Foreign_Body__Nasal
Foreign Body, Nasal [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 26]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307587/all/Foreign_Body__Nasal.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Foreign Body, Nasal ID - 307587 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307587/all/Foreign_Body__Nasal PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -