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Foreign-body aspiration in children results in diagnostic problems, mainly because of nonspecific signs. Therefore, in this study, we placed particular stress on false-positive and -negative predictors. Charts of 139 consecutive paediatric patients aged 6.0 months to 15.5 years who underwent bronchoscopy for a suspected foreign body aspiration were analysed retrospectively. A foreign body was found in 95 cases (68%). The anamnesis was positive in 91%. Cough was the most common clinical symptom (91%) with a sensitivity and specificity of 94% and 23%, respectively. There were no significant correlations between clinical symptoms and the locations of foreign bodies. The majority of focal hyperinflation (24%) and atelectasis (15%) were seen in chest radiographs, with a sensitivity and specificity of 33% and 89% (hyperinflation) and 15% and 82% (atelectasis), respectively. Chest X-rays were normal in 46 cases; however, an object was removed in 25. Persistent infiltrates were present in 14 X-rays, and a foreign body was extracted during bronchoscopy in 4. A highly significant correlation between the type of foreign body and radiological signs was noted (p = 0.00001). Anamnesis, clinical symptoms, and radiological findings are helpful in confirming aspiration, but can be misleading. Chronic or recurrent pneumonia should prompt further bronchoscopic diagnosis.
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