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Cutting food in plastic takeaway containers can cause oesophageal obstruction

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More care should be taken when eating food directly from reheated plastic takeaway containers, as accidental ingestion of plastic can cause oesophageal obstruction, according to a case study in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Dr Marianne Guirgis and Dr Chris Pokorny and their co-authors examined two cases of accidental oesophageal foreign body impaction and said that although most foreign bodies pass spontaneously, 20 per cent require intervention.

Dr Guirgis said that sharp objects represent a medical emergency due to the risk of perforation, which has been estimated to be as high as 35 per cent.

“The two cases we describe involved inadvertent ingestion of plastic as a result of cutting food in a heated, softened food container, resulting in a sharp foreign body oesophageal impaction and subsequent mucosal tear,” Dr Guirgis said.

“Given that takeaway food containers are widely used, these cases highlight the need for care to be taken when heating food in such containers and then consuming directly from them.”

The researchers reviewed the processes involved in diagnosing and removing foreign body impaction.

“Urgent endoscopic removal is required when a sharp object is ingested or if evidence of high-grade obstruction is present,” Dr Guirgis said.

Dr Guirgis noted that the five most common foreign bodies resulting in impaction were food boluses (round-shaped masses of food formed in the mouth after thorough chewing) (17.1 per cent), coins (15.6 per cent), fish bones (12.6 per cent), dental prostheses (8.6 per cent) and chicken bones (6 per cent), and that objects greater than 2 cm in size have difficulty traversing the normal adult oesophagus.

“Risk factors for obstruction include young age, dentures, psychiatric disorders, neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease and strokes, development delay, impairment by alcohol and underlying oesophageal pathology,” Dr Guirgis said.

(Source: Australian Medical Association: Medical Journal of Australia)

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Posted On: 15 March, 2011
Modified On: 28 August, 2014

Created by: myVMC