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Can the epiglottis move if an object is pulled out of the oesophagus?

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Practicing since : 2002
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If a doctor pulled out a big item stuck in someones oesophagus would the item press down the epiglotis for the item to have room to pass out of the mouth.
Posted Wed, 11 Apr 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 7 hours later
Hello and thanks for the query.

A foreign body or piece of food stuck in the esophagus is relatively uncommon but does sometimes happen. It is a very uncomfortable occurrence because the patient would be unable to clear any secretions or swallow.

Generally if the item cannot be cleared a physician such as a gastroenterologist can look inside the esophagus with a device and possibly retrieve it. If it is a piece of food it is usually soft enough that it can be pulled back through the throat and pass the epiglottis with no problem. Remember - the epiglottis closes over the trachea with swallowing to prevent leakage of secretions into the wind pipe.

So in summary yes it would certainly be possible for a doctor to retrieve an item from the esophagus safely and effectively in a scenario such as you described.

Thank you again for submitting your query. I hope you found my answer to be both hekpful and informative. If you have additional concerns I would be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Can the epiglottis move if an object is pulled out of the oesophagus? 38 hours later
You didn't fully answer my question.When the item is pulled from the oesophagus and brushes against the epiglotis can it cause the epiglotis to move even without the person swallowing?.Secondly is it possible for someone to swallow if they had something very small stuck in the oesophagus?. Thirdly I am told I have to wear gum shields for protection in boxing and I am worried what would happen if I accidentally swallowed my gum shield.What would happen if someone accidentally swallowed their gum shield with the gum shield now stuck below their epiglotis?.I would like these questions fully answered please.
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 10 hours later
Thanks for the followup.

Answers to your questions:
1)Yes the item can cause the epiglottis to move even without the person swallowing as it is removed.
2)Yes it is possible to swallow if a small item is stuck in the esophagus as long as that item is not completely obstructing the esophagus.
3)It is highly unlikely that you would swallow a gum shield if it is fitted and worn properly. In the unlikely event that you did swallow the shield beyond the epiglottis you would have to see a specialist to have to see a specialist immediately to have it removed. There is no way to predict exacty what would happen in these hypothetical situations. I can say with confidence however that a situation where a boxer swallows a gum shield is rare enough that I have never seen it nor have any of my partner physicians.

Thanks again for submitting your question and clarifications. I hope these have been adequately answered for you. If you have any additional concerns Inwould be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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