Swallowed foreign bodies are not uncommon occurrences in young children. The close proximity of the heart to the lower esophagus predisposes the heart and surrounding tissues to injury. Complications include accumulation of blood or air in the pericardial space and perforation through the myocardial wall with development of endocarditis. The inability of children to describe a history of ingestion or related symptoms makes timely diagnosis and treatment challenging. Prompt diagnosis and removal of sharp objects or button batteries may help to avoid esophageal penetration and subsequent cardiac complications. Radioopaque foreign bodies are often readily identified by plain radiographs but transthoracic sonography of the lower esophagus is an emerging technique for other objects.
William E Novotny and Cynthia P Keel