What Happens If Someone Swallows Fish Bones?

It is common for fish bones to be swallowed in populations where unfilleted fish is considered a delicacy, and the fish bones will generally do no damage and pass through the gastrointestinal tract within a week, as claimed by a recent paper published by the National Center for Biotechnological Information. However, in some cases, the fish bones may get lodged at various sites of the gastrointestinal tract, which will cause varying health conditions to arise. In these situations, patients may experience varying degrees of discomfort and pain.

In rare circumstances, fish bones can penetrate the mucosal lining of the upper aerodigestive tract and cause abscess formation. Some medical professionals have reported that fish bone ingestion could also result in internal carotid artery puncture.

Fish bones have also been known to perforate locations distal to the esophagus, the ileum, the ileocecal junction and the rectosigmoid colon. It is very rare for the fish bones to perforate or puncture the duodenum.

Complications that have arisen due to fish bone ingestion can be detected by radiographs. Evaluations made with an ultrasonogram are not necessarily accurate, as the results can be influenced by obesity and bowel gases. Most medical professionals rely on CT scans to detect damage caused by ingested fish bones, as damaged areas tend to show symptoms of being calcified.