Imaging

Foreign Body in Trachea/Bronchi

Preliminary Diagnosis: Foreign Body in Trachea/Bronchi

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

Chest X-ray, PA, and lateral views.

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosing a foreign body in the trachea/bronchi.

Advantages

  • Relatively inexpensive, fast imaging modality.

  • Exposes the patient to minimal ionizing radiation.

  • Highly portable.

Disadvantages

  • Less sensitive and specific in detailing the exact location of the foreign body compared to CT imaging.

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

No specific contraindications to plain radiography exist.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

CT of the chest without contrast.

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosing a foreign body in the trachea/bronchi.

Advantages

  • Highly sensitive and specific in detailing the exact location of the foreign body.

  • Better adept to evaluate for any underlying primary process or secondary complications.

  • May be a better tool in treatment planning than plain radiography.

Disadvantages

  • Exposes patients to ionizing radiation.

  • Significant metallic streak artifact may accompany CT imaging if the foreign body of note is metallic.

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

May be contraindicated in pregnant patients.

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