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January 1971

Foreign Bodies in the Appendix

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC
From the Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Dr. Balch is now at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Ala.

Arch Surg. 1971;102(1):14-20. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1971.01350010016004

Eight new cases of foreign bodies in the appendix are added to the 217 previously reported cases in the medical literature. One of these new cases documents the spontaneous passage of a pin and shot which had been visualized in a barium-filled appendix. The 217 case reports included 81 pins, 47 lead shot, 34 seeds, and 16 bones. The remaining 39 cases involved a multitude of miscellaneous objects such as eggshell, glass, teeth, nails, a die (dice), and the clinical end of a thermometer. Most (71%) patients were symptomatic, typically with intermittent abdominal pain for months or years. Pins were most likely to elicit symptoms (93% of cases). A prophylactic appendectomy is recommended whenever a pointed object remains lodged within the appendix. While numerous cases of foreign bodies were reported about the turn of the century (63% of cases were reported between 1880 and 1920), only 21 cases have been described in the past 30 years.