This case serves to remind oral health care providers of the importance of locating a foreign body presumed to be ingested during a dental procedure.
A 58-year-old male was undergoing treatment for a dental crown when he accidentally ingested a 20 mm stainless steel post intended to support the prosthesis. The patient did not display any signs of distress and was referred to a hospital emergency department to determine the location of the object. Imaging revealed the post, described as a “needle-like object,” overlying the mid-abdomen (Fig. 1). The patient was instructed to monitor for spontaneous passage of the object. The patient did not develop any complications, such as hemorrhage, infection, intestinal obstruction and/or perforation, and was unaware if the object had passed spontaneously. However, subsequent imaging of the abdomen revealed the object was no longer present.
If a foreign body is lost in the oral cavity during a dental procedure, it is presumed to be ingested or aspirated. Accidental ingestion occurs more commonly than aspiration and often does not produce any clinical signs or symptoms.1 Immediate referral to a medical facility for imaging is necessary in order to attempt to locate the foreign body. Most ingested foreign bodies pass through the gastrointestinal system without complications.1
- Obinata K, Satoh T, Towfik AM, Nakamura M. An investigation of accidental ingestion during dental procedures. J Oral Sci. 2011;53(4):495-500.