KOCHI: Be it the raging pandemic, a natural disaster or a motor accident, doctors handle emergencies everyday saving the lives of hundreds in the matter of a few minutes. In one such instance, doctors at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) successfully took out pieces of rusk, cake, and nuts that were stuck to an eight-month-old baby’s lungs, on Thursday. The baby was brought to the hospital late that night with breathing difficulties.
“It was on Thursday morning during breakfast that the baby accidentally aspirated pieces of cake and rusk. While eating, the child developed a sudden onset of cough and faced difficulties while breathing. The child threw up some food particles when the mother patted his back, but the breathing issues only got worse,” said Dr Tinku Joseph, Interventional Pulmonologist at AIMS, who led the treatment.
At first, the baby was rushed to a private hospital at their hometown in Idukki, and was later referred to AIMS. The medical team at AIMS, including chief cardiac anesthetist Dr Avik Jayant and Dr Sreeraj Nair, evaluated the child’s condition and immediately recommended a Rigid Bronchoscopy Procedure.
“The procedure was difficult due to a probable congenital deviation of the child’s windpipe and presence of multiple foreign bodies including pieces of rusk, nuts and cake particles in his right lungs. Within 30 minutes, all the foreign bodies were retrieved. The child’s condition is stable,” said one of the doctors.
The team added that foreign body (FB) aspiration is a common problem in children, requiring prompt recognition and early treatment to minimise the potentially serious and sometimes fatal consequences. FB aspiration/inhalation is still a cause of death in childhood, usually in pre-school children.
“Coughing, choking, acute dyspnoea, and sudden onset of wheezing are the most common symptoms. Likewise, in toddlers with unexplained persistent cough with refractory lung parenchymal infiltrates on chest X-ray, unrecognised FB aspiration should be considered. Undiagnosed and retained FBs may result in asphyxia, recurrent pneumonia, pus formation and subsequent permanent damage of lungs,” said Dr Joseph.
Prevention is best, but early recognition remains a critical factor in the treatment of FB inhalation in children. Patients should be sent to experienced centres for evaluation and treatment. Confirmation of the diagnosis should be made with flexible bronchoscopy. Extraction of the aspirated foreign body is generally performed by various Rigid Bronchoscopic procedures, which seem more reliable. Extraction failure and complications are rare and prognosis is excellent if the foreign body is removed within 24 hours.