Radiolucent foreign bodies in the extremities


Orthopedic Surgeons often remove foreign bodies in the extremities. If the foreign body is radiopaque, it can be located using conventional radiographs or fluoroscopy. However, if the foreign body is radiolucent object, it may not be detected leading to serious complications. The aim of this paper is to discuss the role of US in detection of radiolucent foreign body in addition to the presentation and nature of the foreign body. Twenty patients with penetrating injuries in the extremities were treated during 2011 at AL-Husain Teaching Hospital. They were 11 male and 9 female, their ages ranged between 4 to 50 years (average 22.7). All patients were evaluated by detailed history, clinical examination, radiography and US. X-ray and US were done in department of radiology in our Hospital. The lower limb was affected in 14 cases (70%) while the upper limb in 6 cases (30%). presenting symptom was pain (16cases), followed by swelling (3cases), limping and discharging sinus (one case). No foreign bodies were detected by radiography in this study while on the other hand US was detect and localize foreign body in each case. Fifteen patients had history of failed previous interventions for removing foreign bodies. In conclusion; radiolucent foreign bodies are common in children and adults most often presenting as penetrating injury of the extremities. Failure to remove it may lead to serious complications and malpractice lawsuit. US has emerged as the study of choice for detection of radiolucent foreign bodies.