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
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
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.
The Medical Journal of Australia
publication of the Australian Medical Association.