Swallowed Chicken Bone: A Comprehensive Guide on Prevention and Treatment

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    swallowed-chicken-boneEating is a fundamental part of life, and while it can bring extreme joy and nourishment, it can also bring potential dangers that we may not realize. 


    Chicken is one of the most widely consumed meats in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), chicken is the most consumed meat globally, accounting for more than 38% of total meat consumption. In many countries, chicken is considered a staple food due to its affordability, versatility, and taste.


    One of the most common dangers that can arise while eating chicken, is swallowing a chicken bone. Whilst bones in chicken meat are small and brittle, they can pose a serious health risk as a foreign body if swallowed. In this article, we will explore the dangers of swallowed chicken bones, the symptoms to look out for, and the treatments available to help  the address the issue.

    What Are The Dangers Of Swallowing Chicken Bones?

    Chicken bones can cause serious health problems if they are not chewed properly or are swallowed whole. As a foreign body, it can become stuck in the food pipe (esophagus), the windpipe (trachea), or even the intestines. This can cause severe discomfort and can lead to other health complications. If left untreated, an ingested chicken bone can lead to choking, perforation of the esophagus, and other potentially serious health problems.

    What Are The Symptoms Of A Swallowed Chicken Bone?

    If you have swallowed a chicken bone, you may experience the following symptoms:

    • Pain in the throat
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Foreign body sensation
    • Chest pain
    • Abdominal pain
    • Vomiting
    • Blood stained mucus / saliva

    If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately at your nearest doctor or emergency department.

    Prevention Is Key

    chicken_bone_cuttingPrevention is the best way to avoid the dangers of an ingested chicken bone. Here are some tips to help prevent the swallowing of chicken bones:


    • Always chew food thoroughly before swallowing
    • Try not to talk while eating
    • Cut chicken into small pieces before eating
    • Avoid eating chicken bones, even if they have been cooked
    • Do not eat chicken bones that are particularly sharp or brittle

    What To Do If You Swallow a Chicken Bone

    If you do swallow a chicken bone, the first thing you should do is to stay calm and do not panic. In spite of the discomfort, do not try to induce vomiting or swallow anything else. Seek medical attention immediately, as the bone may be stuck and require removal.

    Diagnosis And Treatment

    Diagnosis of chicken bone ingestion will typically involve a physical examination, X-rays, or other imaging tests such as a CT scan. Chicken bones, unlike fish bones, are less likely to be stuck in the throat, and are more likely to be stuck esophagus.


    The treatment recommended will depend on the location of the bone and the severity of the symptoms. In some cases, the bone may pass through the digestive system naturally. However, in other cases, surgery may be required to remove the bone. There have also been extremely rare cases of gastrointestinal perforation or bowel perforation caused by ingested chicken bones.

    Surgery For Chicken Bone Ingestion

    If swallowed chicken bones are causing serious health problems, surgery may be required to remove it. The type of surgery will depend on the location of the bone and the severity of the symptoms. Some common surgical procedures include:

    • Flexible Nasoendoscopy: This is a minimally invasive procedure that can be done under local or general anaesthesia; and involves inserting a flexible tube with a camera into the throat to visualize and remove the bone.
    • Surgery: In more serious cases, surgery may be required to remove the bone or other foreign bodies; or ascertain the presence of colonic perforation or colonic perforation.

    After successful removal, it is important to take steps to prevent future occurrences. This may include changing your eating habits, or avoiding certain types of food.


    An ingested chicken bone can be a serious health concern and should not be taken lightly. If you experience any symptoms after swallowing a chicken bone, please seek medical attention immediately. By taking preventative measures, such as chewing food thoroughly, avoiding talking while eating and cutting chicken into small pieces, you can reduce the risk of chicken bone ingestion and its associated complications

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Yes, swallowing chicken bones is a common occurrence, especially when the chicken meat is not cut into small enough pieces or not chewed properly.

    In some cases, swallowed chicken bones can pass through the body naturally, but it depends on the size and location of the bone. If it becomes stuck in the throat or gastrointestinal tract, it may require medical or surgical intervention.

    No, it is not safe to eat chicken bones, even if they have been cooked. Cooked bones can still cause serious health problems if they are not chewed properly or are swallowed whole.

    If a swallowed chicken bone is not treated, it can lead to choking, perforation of the food pipe (esophagus), abdominal pain and other serious health problems. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that you have swallowed a chicken bone.

    When a person swallows a chicken bone, it can become a foreign body lodged in the digestive tract, and cause damage to the throat, food pipe (esophagus) or other parts of the digestive system. This can lead to discomfort, throat pain / abdominal pain, vomiting and subsequent inability to eat.

    In rare cases, swallowing a chicken bone can be fatal. Such foreign bodies can become lodged in the throat or digestive tract, causing choking or bowel perforation, which can be life-threatening.

    If you suspect that you have swallowed a chicken bone, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. A doctor or ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) specialist can evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of investigation and treatment.

    While swallowing a chicken bone is not usually fatal, it can cause serious health problems. In very rare cases, may be life-threatening. It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you suspect that you have swallowed a foreign body to minimize the risk of serious health problems.


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