Dataset Information


Wheezing of unexpected etiology: A case report of pea aspiration mimicking bronchus obstruction caused by a tumor.



Geriatric patients with foreign body aspiration (FBA) lack a detailed medical history. Meanwhile, FBA can mimic other diseases and present with wheezing. Here, we report on the difficulty of making a diagnosis of FBA in an elderly man with wheezing.

Case presentation

An 84-year-old man presented with wet cough. He had progressive lung cancer, for which only supportive care was provided. His physical examination revealed wheezing. We presumptively diagnosed acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AE-COPD) and administered inhaled procaterol and parenteral methylprednisolone, which did not mitigate his symptoms. Computed tomography revealed a round nodule, 1 cm in diameter, in his right intermediate bronchus. Central airway obstruction (CAO) caused by the tumor was initially suspected. However, bronchoscopy revealed a pea (Pisum sativum) lodged in his right bronchus, which was removed using forceps.


The typical clinical presentations of FBA are sudden-onset cough and dyspnea. However, some geriatric patients do not have cough or lack the cognitive capacity to inform of an episode of FBA. FBA can mimic other entities including AE-COPD and CAO, as seen in our case. Clinicians should not terminate the diagnostic process until all available information explaining the patient's signs and symptoms is collected.


Despite the lack of apparent aspiration, FBA is an important differential diagnosis of new wheezing in the elderly. Physicians need to carefully evaluate "trivial" information or collect additional information when encountering airway symptoms in elderly patients to avoid missing an FBA diagnosis.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7841212 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies