Aspiration of foreign bodies occurs much less frequently in adults than in children. Older adults and denture wearers appear to be at greatest risk. Wider familiarity with the Heimlich maneuver has reduced deaths. If the maneuver is unsuccessful, cricothyrotomy may be necessary. Plain chest radiographs may reveal a radiopaque foreign body. Detection of radiolucent foreign bodies may be aided by inspiration-expiration films that demonstrate air trapping distal to the obstructed segment. Atelectasis and pneumonia may occur later.
Tracheal and bronchial foreign bodies should be removed under general anesthesia with rigid bronchoscopy by a skilled endoscopist working with an experienced anesthesiologist.