Foreign bodies in the heart

Marina Leitman*, Zvi Vered

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background Foreign bodies in the heart are rare, may reach the heart by different ways, and cause serious complications. X-ray, computerized tomography, and echocardiography are main diagnostic modalities. Foreign body can be removed surgically, percutaneously or can be managed conservatively. In this work, we analyzed 100 published cases of a foreign body in the heart and 4 cases that were identified in our hospital. Methods We searched the literature for foreign body in the heart and found 100 published previously cases. Additional 4 cases were identified in our echo laboratory. A total series of 104 patients with a foreign body in the heart were analyzed for the etiology, clinical presentation, symptoms, complications and management. Results Mean patients' age was 46, there were more men than woman 73 versus 31 [P < 0.00005]. The most common foreign bodies were parts of inferior vena cava filters and devices implanted for relieving hydrocephalus. Foreign bodies in the heart were symptomatic in 56% of patients. Right heart chambers were occupied more often. A total of 20% presented within the first 24 hours and 30% of patients presented years after the penetration of the foreign body. A majority of foreign bodies reached the heart by migration [88%]. Mortality was reported in 4 patients [3.8%]. Here 54% of the patients underwent surgical and 29% percutaneous removal of the foreign body, while 14% were followed conservatively. Conclusion Foreign bodies in the heart may present with a wide variety of symptoms. Physicians should be aware of this rare and peculiar complications which may be fatal. Larger devices may result in more severe complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015


  • echocardiography
  • foreign body
  • heart


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