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Esophageal Foreign Body

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is an esophageal foreign body?

An esophageal foreign body is an object you swallowed that got stuck in your esophagus (throat). Examples include dental work and button batteries. A piece of food or a fish bone can also become stuck in your esophagus. Your risk increases if you wear dentures, have trouble swallowing, or have a narrow esophagus. You also have a higher risk if you eat fish that contains small bones.

Digestive Tract

What are the signs and symptoms of an esophageal foreign body?

How may an esophageal foreign body be found?

Your healthcare provider will examine your throat, chest, and abdomen. Tell your provider the type of object you swallowed and when you swallowed it. Your provider may use any of the following to find the object:

How may an esophageal foreign body be removed?

Your healthcare provider may choose to observe you for 24 hours or longer. Most objects pass through the digestive system on their own within 7 to 10 days. Objects that are small or smooth will often pass without a problem. You will need to search for the object every time you have a bowel movement. Do not use laxatives or stool softeners. Do not force yourself to vomit. Your provider may try to remove the object with any of the following:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.