The Esophageal Coin: Is It a Penny?

Cantu Jr., Santos; Conners, Gregory P.
May 2002
American Surgeon;May2002, Vol. 68 Issue 5, p417
Academic Journal
Because of their high zinc content modern U.S. pennies that become lodged in the esophagus may react with stomach acid thereby damaging the esophageal mucosa. Management of esophageal pennies may therefore differ from that of other esophageal coins making differentiation of pennies from other coins important. We reviewed the records of 111 children who underwent endoscopic esophageal coin removal over a 19-year period to determine the ability of history and size of esophageal coin images on posterior-anterior and lateral chest radiographs alone and in combination to differentiate esophageal pennies from other esophageal coins. History alone accurately identified 83 per cent of esophageal coins. Ranges of two standard deviations around mean image sizes were determined for each coin denominations. We determined the probability of an esophageal coin being a penny based on combinations of historical data and whether or not image sizes fell within the calculated range for a penny. When all data agree that a coin is or is not a penny they are nearly always correct. When there is disagreement among historical and image size data the probability that is a coin is a penny is strongly influenced by the size of the radiographic images.


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