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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