ESOPHAGUS, FOREIGN BODIES IN.—Foreign bodies not infrequently find their way into the pharynx or the oesophagus. Teeth, teeth-plates, hones, needles, fish bones, etc., are often swallowed accidentally, and may remain in the pharynx or in the muscular wall of the (esophagus, generally lodged sideways. They cause contraction of the oesophagus, and more or less severe trouble in swallowing ; at times they may give rise also to inflammation and suppuration of the wall of the (esophagus. If the foreign bodies do not fall accidentally into the stomach, or are not ejected by vomit ing, it is best to try to displace them by encouraging vomiting. This may be accomplished by tickling the pharynx with the handle of a spoon, or by introducing the finger. It may sometimes be possible to grasp the foreign body with the fingers, and thus to remove it. If these attempts are fruit less, and if the patient is suffocating, place him with his chest toward the wall and strike his back with short strong strokes between the shoulder blades. The air which is thus forced from the lungs may carry the foreign body with it if it be lodged at the junction of the windpipe and (esophagus.
If the object has already been swallowed, as will be seen from the fact that the patient can cat and drink without hindrance, he should be allowed to eat plentifully of cooked potatoes, so as to envelop the possibly pointed or sharp object, and thereby avoid injury. Swallowed coins are generally harmless, and pass with the stools. No time should be lost before summoning a physician, who, with his technical knowledge, and with the aid of special instruments, can generally remove the object quickly, or if necessary thrust it into the stomach ; while the layman would be making fruitless endeavours. If needles or other dangerous articles have been swallowed, and if they do not pass after a few days, operative removal may be necessary.
The swallowing of objects could often be avoided ; for instance, by removing artificial plates from the mouth before retiring, by eating more carefully, and by abolishing the habit of holding pins and the like between the teeth.