The management of 104 patients complaining of foreign body (FB) in the throat in an accident and emergency (A&E) department was analysed over a period of 7 months. The majority of these patients (88.4%), underwent a soft tissue radiograph of the neck. Less than 10% of the radiographs were thought to be abnormal by the A&E staff. Two thirds of the patients (69.2%) were referred to the ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons. Of these 84.7% had indirect laryngoscopy. Eighteen (17.3%) FBs were found in addition to five (4.8%) other causes of the symptom. It is concluded that routine use of radiographs in the assessment of FB in the throat is inappropriate. By contrast thorough clinical examination and indirect laryngoscopy (IDL) have a high diagnostic yield. A protocol is suggested for managing the condition.
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