Surgery to Remove Ingested Foreign Bodies Safe But Costly

Procedures to remove deliberately ingested items result in minor complications in only a few cases

FRIDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The ingestion of foreign bodies (FBs) is a serious and recurring problem that rarely has endoscopic complications but can be expensive to treat, according to research published in the November issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Brian L. Huang, M.D., of Rhode Island Hospital and the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of endoscopic cases that occurred at Rhode Island Hospital between Oct. 1, 2001, and July 31, 2009. They used an electronic endoscopy database to identify 305 cases (39 cases per year) of FB ingestions involving 33 patients, 79 percent of whom had a psychiatric diagnosis.

The researchers found that intentionally ingested FBs included pens (23.6 percent), batteries (9.2 percent), knives (7.2 percent), and razor blades (6.9 percent). The endoscopies were generally safe and successful in removing the FBs, and minor complications occurred in only 11 cases (3.6 percent). No deaths or perforations were reported. The total cost of hospital care was $1,500,627, with physician fees totaling $240,640 and security services totaling $276,806.

"Intentional FB ingestion occurs among a relatively small number of patients with psychiatric disorders and is costly. Endoscopic retrieval is relatively effective and safe, but often requires general anesthesia. These cases utilize significant hospital and fiscal resources. Attention should be focused on preventing these recurrent and costly episodes," the authors write.

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