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DrRussMD, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 65296
Experience:  Internal Medicine--practice all of internal medicine, all ages, family, health, prevention, complementary medicine, etc.
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I swallowed a toothpick a few hours ago.

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I swallowed a toothpick a few hours ago.
Are you OK at this point?
Any symptoms?
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I am asymptomatic, other than maybe feeling slight bloating in the mid abdomen. I knew as soon as I swallowed it (4 hours ago), and it was lodged in the upper esophagus horizontally. I tried to cough it up but could not. It was uncomfortable and finally I decided if it wasn't going to come up, it might go down. I know that the broken swallowed toothpick is about 1.5 inches long and sharpened on one end. I ate a slice of bread and I could feel that it dislodged the toothpick and down it went. No longer any discomfort. I've been chasing it down with water and plenty of high fiber. Now what? Just wait and be vigilant for symptoms? Or do I actually need to have someone try to fish it out of stomach with an endoscope? Yeah...I saw the episode of House, which I believe to be basically overdramatized bullshit, but rarely a complication could happen. But that's why I'm paying 30 bucks for an expert answer. Thanks

No surprisingly in many cases this will go on through, continuing soluble fiber will help.
What you should do however is alert your physician just so you have help monitoring this in case you need intervention.
Gastric juice will partially soften and break down the pick.
Your intestine is capable of handling 1.5 inches.

If you started having symptoms, pain, back pain, fever, etc. this would be the time to worry. Otherwise...probably fine.
Good luck
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay, I know the kinds of symptoms to watch for. But do you know the odds? If it's something like 95% likely that this will resolve without any serious issue, i will just keep throwing fiber at it. However, if there is better than say a 5% chance that serious consequences will ensue, I can probably get an endoscopy within a few hours. However, that would make it around 7-8 hours since the occurrence and wouldn't it likely have already travelled well beyond the reach of of the proximal duodenum? Last question, and then I'm out of your hair, if in the next few days I want to be assured that the thing has passed and isn't just stuck in the intestinal wall somewhere, would the best test be an upper GI with small bowel follow through? Or CT? Or should I just forget about it assuming I remain asymptomatic? Thanks.
It might already be out of your stomach.
Odds are not really predictable, And I suspect that if you can talk with a GI doctor so quickly you should, as this might be better for defining your risk. Although the vast majority will pass, those that do not cause problems.
Ultrasound, MRI and CT are effective for imaging wooden foreign bodies.
Good luck.
dt Please click ACCEPT to give answer credit. Ask more if needed. Bonuses and positive feedback most helpful. Answers for informational purposes only
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