A 5 year old boy comes in who has stuck a small unpopped popcorn kernel into each ear. My resident and I discuss different methods to try to get it out including an ear curette, tissue glue, suction, and calling the ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist. The ear curette won’t work to get around and the kernels are smooth and hard to grasp and might cause trauma with swelling or bleeding. We quickly excluded irrigation because the kernel might swell more. Another method considered was a drop of tissue adhesive onto a q-tip stick to adhere onto the foreign body (FB) for extraction. We were a little leary of this however for fear of gluing the FB to the ear canal and suffering the wrath of ENT.
It is near the end of your shift and one of the nurses asks you to see a fellow ED staff member’s nine-year old daughter who has accidentally put a foreign body into her ear. You go see her and the otoscope reveals a small shiny jewel within the ear canal however flushing does not work to get it out. Next you try using the otoscope, while exposing the ear canal and holding the forceps to grasp the object. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get your assistant to align the light, and the otoscope speculum is limited in view and access.