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July 1980

Migration of Inflorescence: Complications of Grass Head Aspiration

Author Affiliations

USAF; USAF; USAF Medical Center Keesler/SGHMC Keesler AFB, MS 39534

Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(7):704-706. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130190070019

Foreign body aspiration may cause acute airway obstruction or chronic and recurrent inflammation of the lung. An unusual aspiration syndrome has been described as following inhalation of the inflorescence, or flower-bearing part, of grasses.1.2 Structural characteristics of the grass head predispose it to peripheral migration, making spontaneous expectoration unlikely. The length and stiffness of the spines radiating from the inflorescence dictate its behavior after aspiration. Peripheral migration with airway obstruction characterize timothy grass heads, whereas barley grass heads tend to continue migration through the lung parenchyma and chest wall.

The following case illustrates the complications that may occur after aspiration of a barley grass head. The possibility of foreign body aspiration was not considered in our patient until the inflorescence was found in the pleural cavity.

Report of a Case.—This previously healthy 2½-year-old child had an acute onset of dyspnea and fever. A chest roentgenogram showed a right

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