October 24, 2012

"Mother's Kiss" to Remove Nasal Foreign Bodies

In 1965, a general practitioner Vladimir Ctibor described the "Mother's Kiss" technique of removing nasal foreign bodies in a child.

Essentially, a trusted adult (like a mother) places her mouth over the child's mouth as if to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. While pinching off the unaffected nostril, the adult than blows gently into the child's mouth until resistance is felt caused by the child closing the glottis. At that moment, the adult gives a sharp explosive exhalation to deliver a strong puff of air that passes up into the nose and out the unblocked nostril. If successful, this air puff will also blow the foreign body out the nose as well.

If the adult blow's air when the child's glottis is open, air will just go into the lungs rather than up the nose.

Prior to the procedure, the child is informed that the mom will give the child a "big kiss," hence the name of this procedure.

Now... does this technique actually work?

According to one meta-analysis, it works about 59.9% of the time.

The way I consider it... it can't hurt to try before using instruments to manually remove the nasal foreign body. A "mother's kiss" is certainly a more comfortable and familiar approach for a child versus the alternative.

However, one warning point... the child should be calmly breathing during this procedure. If the child becomes hysterical during the procedure, the child might strongly inhale through the unblocked nostril and potentially suck the foreign body (if small enough) down into the lungs making an unlucky situation into a medical emergency.

Another point for those uninformed... do NOT use this procedure on ear foreign bodies. It will NOT work. The ear canal is a closed container with no inlet or outlet for any air pressure produced by a "Mother's Kiss." In fact, trying to perform this procedure on the ear may cause a ruptured eardrum and even permanent hearing loss.

Removal of Foreign Bodies from the Nose. NEJM 1985; 312:725.

Efficacy and safety of of the "Mother's Kiss" technique: A systematic review of case reports and case series. CMAJ 2012. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.111864 (full length pdf)
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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