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Repeat endoscopy for deliberate foreign body ingestions

Is there a point at which it’s medically and ethically appropriate to defer endoscopy?
X-ray image of person swallowed coin
X-ray image of person swallowed coin

A 35-year-old female with a complex psychiatric history and polysubstance use presents to the emergency department following ingestion of three sewing needles. The patient has a long history of multiple suicide attempts and foreign-body ingestions requiring repeated endoscopy. Prior ingestions include, but are not limited to, razor blades, screws, toothbrushes, batteries, plastic cutlery and shower curtain rings. The patient has had over 50 upper endoscopies within the past year in addition to a laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy for retrieval of foreign bodies.

Despite intensive inpatient psychiatric treatment and outpatient behavioral therapy, the patient continues to present with recurrent ingestions, creating frustration among multiple health care providers. Are gastroenterologists obligated to perform repeated endoscopies for recurrent foreign-body ingestions? Is there a point at which it would be medically and ethically appropriate to defer endoscopy in this clinical scenario?

Read the full article from Drs. Ariel Sims and Vijaya Rao in GI & Hepatology News

Ariel Sims, MD

Ariel Sims, MD

Vijaya Rao, MD

Vijaya Rao, MD

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