, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 33-40
Date: 11 Oct 2006

Utilization of low-dose multidetector CT and virtual bronchoscopy in children with suspected foreign body aspiration

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Foreign body aspiration is common in children, especially those under 3 years of age. Chest radiography and CT are the main imaging modalities for the evaluation of these children. Management of children with suspected foreign body aspiration (SFBA) mainly depends on radiological findings.


To investigate the potential use of low-dose multidetector CT (MDCT) and virtual bronchoscopy (VB) in the evaluation and management of SFBA in children.

Materials and methods

Included in the study were 37 children (17 girls, 20 boys; age 4 months to 10 years, mean 32 months) with SFBA. Chest radiographs were obtained prior to MDCT in all patients. MDCT was performed using a low-dose technique. VB images were obtained in the same session. Conventional bronchoscopy (CB) was performed within 24 h on patients in whom an obstructive abnormality had been found by MDCT and VB.


Obstructive pathology was found in 16 (43.25%) of the 37 patients using MDCT and VB. In 13 of these patients, foreign bodies were detected and removed via CB. The foreign bodies were located in the right main bronchus (n = 5), in the bronchus intermedius (n = 6), in the medial segment of the middle lobe bronchus (n = 1), and in the left main bronchus (n = 1). In the remaining three patients, the diagnosis was false-positive for an obstructive pathology by MDCT and VB; the final diagnoses were secretions (n = 2) and schwannoma (n = 1), as demonstrated by CB. In 21 patients in whom no obstructive pathology was detected by MDCT and VB, CB was not performed. These patients were followed for 5–20 months without any recurrent obstructive symptomatology.


Low-dose MDCT and VB are non-invasive radiological modalities that can be used easily in the investigation of SFBA in children. MDCT and VB provide the exact location of the obstructive pathology prior to CB. If obstructive pathology is depicted with MDCT and VB, CB should be performed either for confirmation of the diagnosis or for the diagnosis of an alternative cause for the obstruction. In cases where no obstructive pathology is detected by MDCT and VB, CB may not be clinically useful.