• Users Online: 501
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

 Table of Contents    
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 84-85  

Metallic foreign object in postoperative chest radiograph?

Medanta Institute of Critical Care and Anaesthesiology, Medanta - The Medicity, Gurgaon, India

Date of Web Publication9-Feb-2011

Correspondence Address:
Yatin Mehta
Medanta Institute of Critical Care and Anaesthesiology, Medanta - The Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.76576

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Arora D, Bansal A, Mehta Y. Metallic foreign object in postoperative chest radiograph?. Indian J Anaesth 2011;55:84-5

How to cite this URL:
Arora D, Bansal A, Mehta Y. Metallic foreign object in postoperative chest radiograph?. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Dec 2];55:84-5. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2011/55/1/84/76576


A 63-year-old male underwent beating heart coronary artery bypass surgery at our institute. Post procedure, the patient was shifted to Cardiac Recovery with endotracheal tube, Swan Ganz catheter and femoral arterial cannula in situ. The procedure was completed uneventfully, with complete counts of all the materials used by the surgeon for the surgery. The on-duty resident found a radio opaque coiled wire like shadow lateral, to the right sternal border in the third intercostal space (ICS) on a post operative chest radiograph anteroposterior view [Figure 1]. The presence of this unique foreign body raised a suspicion.
Figure 1: Chest radiograph showing metallic object lateral to the right sternal border

Click here to view

At the first instance the possibility of a metallic object being left in was thought of, but it was ruled out on the assurance of the surgeon and the assistant operating staff. On physical examination no metallic object was found on the patient's chest. The digital chest X-ray was repeated. The repeat radiograph showed the same foreign body lying on the right side of the neck, above the clavicle, with a clear demarcation of the pilot balloon [Figure 2]. Thus, diagnosis of pilot balloon of the tracheal tube and its spring loaded valve falsely appearing as a foreign body was made.
Figure 2: Chest radiograph showing metallic object above the right clavicle

Click here to view

Artefacts can commonly be seen in a chest X-ray film. However, the familiarity and knowledge of various surgical materials like vascular clips, stents, sternal wires, needles, intra-aortic balloon catheter tips and so on, can help clinicians in differentiating these from the artefacts. Also the knowledge of some common radio opaque structures, which may appear as artefacts should also be kept in mind. Chakarabarthy and others reported radio opaque rings seen in the post off-pump coronary artery bypass chest radiograph as epidural connectors. [1] Arora and others reported the hearing aid of a patient appearing as a pacemaker on an X-ray. [2] As any surgical mishap such as wires, shunts, sponges and so on can have catastrophic consequences and medicolegal implications, [3] early recognition of such events is warranted, using other imaging modalities if need be. Adequate knowledge and cautious reading and reporting of X-rays may prevent unnecessary interventions. The pilot balloon may be secured along with the tracheal tube, particularly in patients undergoing cardiac surgery or requiring prolonged ventilation, so that it does not mislead the clinician.

   References Top

1.Chakravarthy M, Patil TG, Jawali V, Jayaprakash K, Shivananda N. Radio-opaque foreign body on a postoperative chest X-ray. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth 2004;18:673-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Arora D, Mehta Y. An unidentified object in the chest? J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth 2008;22:930-1.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Wolfson KA, Seeger LL, Kadell MB, Eckardt JJ. Imaging of surgical paraphernalia: What belongs in the patient and what does not. Radiographics 2000;20:1665-73.  Back to cited text no. 3


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

This article has been cited by
1 An unusual radio-opaque shadow in the chest radiograph after coronary artery bypass surgery
Chakravarthy, M. and Krishnamoorthy, J. and Suryaprakash, S. and Muniraju, G. and Jose, J. and Jawali, V.
Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia. 2013; 27(3): 634-635
2 An Unusual Radio-Opaque Shadow in the Chest Radiograph After Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
Murali Chakravarthy,Jayaprakash Krishnamoorthy,Sharadaprasad Suryaprakash,Geetha Muniraju,Jijan Jose,Vivek Jawali
Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia. 2013; 27(3): 634
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded320    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal