Clinical communication: Adult| Volume 41, ISSUE 6, e125-e128, December 2011

Glass Foreign Body in Soft Tissue: Possibility of High Morbidity Due to Delayed Migration

Published:November 27, 2008DOI:


      Background: Soft tissue foreign bodies (FBs) are a common occurrence in emergency departments (EDs). Some FBs cause complications, whereas others are asymptomatic and remain undetected for months or years. Case Report: A 32-year-old man presented to the ED with complaints of back pain in the area of a subcutaneous lump that had migrated toward the midline, nearly 25 cm from its former location, over the previous 2 weeks. Twelve years previously, after falling onto a glass door that shattered, he had gone to a local ED and had his wound sutured, but no X-ray studies were taken. Within a few months, he noticed a lump near his scapula, but he did not relate it to the fall and it did not bother him much. Physical examination revealed a normal neurological examination and a palpable mass in the right paraspinal area at the level of the tenth thoracic vertebra. An X-ray study showed a 34-mm-long sharp density in the vicinity of the spinal canal near T10. Efforts lasting almost 2 h to identify and remove the foreign body were unsuccessful. The following day, a 4 × 6 × 34 mm sharp glass fragment was removed in the operating room under fluoroscopy. Conclusions: Retained soft-tissue foreign bodies may migrate very late and can cause high morbidity or mortality. It is important to be diligent in the search for foreign bodies, using ultrasound, computed tomography scan, or magnetic resonance imaging in cases in which initial plain radiographs are negative.


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