Dubai: In an unlikely bronchoscopy conducted at Medcare Hospital, Dubai, an ear nose throat (ENT) surgeon successfully extracted a peanut from one of the lungs of a child who had accidentally aspirated it.
Baby Zaeed Quachtooni, just shy of his second birthday, was brought to the hospital by his mother Amani Quachtooni as he had trouble breathing for two days after aspirating the peanut.
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Recounting the events that led to the surgery, which is rarely performed in private hospitals, Dr Muhammad Jabbr, consultant head and neck surgeon at Medcare Hospital, Al Safa, told Gulf News: “When the Syrian expatriate mother brought baby Zaeed recently, she told me that two days earlier, the child had been eating peanuts when he suddenly laughed and then started coughing a lot. She tried to calm him down and it seemed to settle. However, he developed some breathing difficulty thereafter. So the parents first took the baby to their family paediatrician. The paediatrician conducted an X-ray on Baby Zaeed’s lungs, but could not detect anything. So she referred the child to me.”
Dr Jabbr said he had to work on the basis of circumstantial evidence, based on what the mother had reported. So on the third day after the peanut aspiration, he conducted a bronchoscopy under general anaesthesia.
“When I examined the baby and heard his breathing, I could detect wheezing sounds from his right lung. We had not been able to detect the peanut in the X-ray, but decided to go ahead with the surgery. The bronchoscope is introduced through the mouth cavity, it travels through the larynx and tracheas and up to the bronchus in the lungs. I had to look up both the lungs. I discovered the peanut deep down in the bronchus of the right lung. The bronchoscope has microscopic forceps and I was able to pick the peanut out of the lungs. The baby recovered completely the same day and was discharged.”
Narrating the turn of events, Quachtooni, the mother of three children — a six-year-old girl Liam, two-year-old Zaeed and a seven-month-old baby girl Talia, said: “Zaaed loves peanuts and eats them often. On that day too, he was having some, when he suddenly started choking and coughing. I did my best to relieve him by patting his back and after some time he was calm. However, the next day, he had fever and needed a paracetamol. When I put my ear to his chest, I could hear he was wheezing. So I took him to the emergency at Medcare Hospital. I am so thankful the peanut has been taken out. Never again will I give Zaeed any peanuts. He has recovered completely and is doing well now.”
No nuts for little ones
Had the peanut not been removed, it could have caused breathing distress and the affected lung could have developed an abscess, said Dr Jabbr.
He cautioned mothers not to feed nuts to babies.
“Little children can often choke on food and it is very important to choose age-appropriate food for your child. These are solid and too small and can easily slip into the wind pipe. If at all you need to give nuts it is better to crush them and sprinkle over the child’s meal.”
Some dos and don’ts:
• Always choose age-appropriate snacks. A child’s swallowing muscles are not completely developed and it is better to avoid hard and tiny objects such as nuts.
• Choose softer snacks such as steamed fruit or vegetables.
• Make sure the child is not distracted or playing at feeding time. Make him or her sit down on a chair and be very mindful of feeding only small bites. Wait for the child to chew each bite well.
• Make sure that older children do no feed the child any food that can be tricky.
• If a child chokes, thump the back and try to dislodge the food item from the child’s throat.
• If that fails, then it is advisable to bring the child to the hospital for a proper examination and intervention.