At a glance

Foreign bodies may become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract if ingested or inserted. These are common emergency cases. Depending on the size of the foreign body, the object may pass naturally, but if the object becomes stuck, such as a swallowed coin or larger object, surgery may be needed to remove the obstruction.

What surgery involves

Removal of foreign bodies in the gastrointestinal tract may be done through endoscopic techniques or open surgery. In most cases, the patient is put under general anaesthesia so that should open surgery be needed, the patient is prepped. Which of the two surgical techniques chosen by your surgeon will depend on location, the degree of obstruction and length of time the object has been blocking the gastrointestinal tract.

Depending on where the object is stuck, endoscopic techniques may be used. A gastroscopy or colonoscopy may be done to remove the object by inserting the endoscope, fitted with a camera, into your mouth or anus, depending on the location of the foreign body. Using tools passed through the endoscope, the object may be gently removed. On table, x-rays may be utilised to locate the object if it is radiolucent.

In cases where endoscopic surgery fails or is not deemed viable, open surgery may be done. Dr Maraj will then proceed to perform a laparotomy to access the location of the foreign body and remove it appropriately through the abdominal cavity.

This merely a basic explanation of the strategy taken for this type of emergency procedure, Dr Maraj will be able to provide you with any further information.

Risks & complications

Guidelines and protocols will be followed to prevent complications; however, as with any surgery or procedure, there are risks. If endoscopy was used for this procedure, risks may include bleeding, infection or perforation of the gastrointestinal tract. In such cases, you will be monitored closely by Dr Maraj post-surgery to ensure that any complications are caught early and treated appropriately.