9 Aug 2022

Fish Bone Stuck in Throat

– The information has been reviewed by Dr. Ko Hiu Fai
Fish bone

People eating in a rush, and older adults or young children with difficulty swallowing, are prone to having bones stuck in the throat, particularly with tiny and sharp fish bones. This is a common reason for an A&E visit.

If a person has a fish bone stuck in your throat, he/ she may experience the following symptoms: cough, stinging pain in throat or odynophagia (pain when swallowing). Tiny piece of fish bones usually can pass through the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract).However, some may impact in the esophagus, or in complicated cases, the wound is infected by virus or bacteria and may lead to abscess in GI tract and cause chest pain.



Common solutions include drinking vinegar or eating cooked rice may not be effective. For example, older adults or young children with difficulty in swallowing may risk grave injuries by forcing rice down the throat. What’s even worse, this may lodge the bone much deeper, making it more difficult to remove. Drinking vinegar can potentially trigger further injury to the inflamed esophagus.


Basic First Aid

Spit out the food and cough forcefully to shake the fish bone loose. Consult a doctor if the bone does not come out or if you experience chest pain or an inability to eat or drink.


Endoscopic Removal

As fish bones are generally stuck near the tonsils, back of the tongue or vallecula, doctors may perform laryngoscopy under local anesthesia to examine these areas. Once the bone is found, doctor can use pliers to extract the fish bone or push it down into your stomach.  If this fails and the patient continues to feel unwell, gastroscopy, neck or chest x-ray or computed tomography (CT scan) may help to continue with the search. When the fish bone is removed, the symptoms would disappear and antibiotics or painkillers are not needed.