New lease of life for 4-yr-old after AIIMS surgery to remove whistle stuck in windpipe

After a four-year-old boy inadvertently swallowed a 1.8-cm-long whistle installed in his shoe, that got stuck in his right bronchus, leaving him unable to breathe and creating abnormal sounds while breathing, AIIMS Delhi conducted a minimally invasive bronchoscopic surgery on him.

According to doctors, the incident could have turned fatal had the child not been able to make it to the hospital.

The child was brought to the hospital’s emergency room from where he was shifted to the operation theatre and surgery was conducted.

A team of doctors including AIIMS Director Dr M Srinivas, Dr Minu Bajpai and Dr Prabudh Goel conducted the surgery, which went on for 45 minutes.

Doctors said that the child, a native of Haryana’s Nuh, was given a pair of slippers that had a whistle inside and its sound excited him.

Later, the child took the whistle out of the shoe and swallowed it.

The whistle got stuck in his right bronchus and he started coughing after his parents brought him to AIIMS.

“He was coughing badly and had difficulty in breathing, while he was coughing, he was also producing whistling sounds which emerged from the whistle stuck in his lungs,” said Dr Goel, assistant professor in the Paediatric Surgery department.

Dr Goel added that it was an emergency case, and the child was shifted to the operation theatre and a bronchoscopy conducted, which requires a four-way mechanism that can sometimes turn fatal in such young kids as four pipes are put inside the mouth of the child.

“The airpipe of children is smaller than our little finger. For such surgeries, we put a pipe with light to make the area visible and insert a camera to see what needs to be operated on. The third mechanism involves establishing air passage for the child to breathe enough during the surgery, and then an instrument is put inside to out the foreign element stuck in the lungs,” Dr Goel explained.

Doctors said that every year the institute witnesses 100 such cases where parents report that their children swallowed toy parts or food items, out of curiosity, that get stuck in their throat.

“The consequences of such events could be disastrous and lead to brain damage, loss of life, need for open chest surgery or tracheostomy, etc,” said Dr Bajpai, the head of the department of Paediatric Surgery at AIIMS Delhi.

Doctors said smaller items, such as peanuts, necklace beads, dry batteries and smaller components assembled into toys, etc. should strictly be kept out of reach of children.

Dr Bajpai said that the incident is not uncommon, and children, especially those aged below five years, have tendencies to do it.

“At home, parents should be very careful and they should not allow such things around kids of that age,” he added.

“Children between the age of 18-24 months use their mouths to explore the world. This is known to aid in their sensory-motor development. However, the habit does not always go away spontaneously and can lead to irreversible consequences,” Dr Bajpai added.



  • Adam Gray

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