World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 372–377 | Cite as

Perforation of the Gastrointestinal Tract Secondary to Ingestion of Foreign Bodies

  • Brian K.P. GohEmail author
  • Pierce K.H. Chow
  • Hak-Mien Quah
  • Hock-Soo Ong
  • Kong-Weng Eu
  • London L.P.J. Ooi
  • Wai-Keong Wong



Ingesting a foreign body (FB) is not an uncommon occurrence. Most pass through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract uneventfully, and perforation is rare. The aim of this study was to report our experience with ingested FB perforations of the GI tract treated surgically at our institution.


A total of 62 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for an ingested FB perforation of the GI tract between 1990 and 2005 were retrospectively reviewed. Three patients with no definite FB demonstrated intraoperatively were included.


The patients had a median age of 58 years, and 37 (60%) were male. Of the 59 FBs recovered, 55 (93%) were toothpicks and dietary FBs such as fish bones or bone fragments. A definitive preoperative history of FB ingestion was obtained for only two patients, and 36 of 52 patients (69%) wore dentures. Altogether, 18 (29%) perforations occurred in the anus or distal rectum, and 44 perforations were intraabdominal, with the most common abdominal site being the distal ileum (39%). Patients with FB perforations in the stomach, duodenum, and large intestine were significantly more likely to be afebrile (P = 0.043), to have chronic symptoms (> 3 days) (P < 0.001), to have a normal total white blood cell count (P < 0.001), and to be asymptomatic or present with an abdominal mass or abscess (P < 0.001) compared to those with FB perforations in the jejunum and ileum.


Ingested FB perforation in the adult population is most commonly secondary to unconscious accidental ingestion and is frequently caused by dietary FBs especially fish bones. A preoperative history of FB ingestion is thus rarely obtained, although wearing dentures is a common risk factor. FB perforations of the stomach, duodenum, and large intestine tend to present with a longer, more innocuous clinical picture than perforations in the jejunum or ileum.


Foreign Body Plain Radiography Fish Bone Prison Inmate Perianal Abscess 
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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian K.P. Goh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pierce K.H. Chow
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hak-Mien Quah
    • 3
  • Hock-Soo Ong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kong-Weng Eu
    • 3
  • London L.P.J. Ooi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wai-Keong Wong
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SurgerySingapore General HospitalSingapore
  2. 2.Department of Surgical OncologyNational Cancer CentreSingapore
  3. 3.Department of Colorectal SurgerySingapore General HospitalSingapore

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