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A Journal on Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Odontostomatology and Maxillofacial Surgery
Indexed/Abstracted in: CAB, EMBASE, Index to Dental Literature, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index




Minerva Stomatologica 2008 October;57(10):535-47

language: English, Italian

A case of accidental aspiration of a dental cutter into the bronchopulmonary tree: clinical implications and legal considerations

D’Ovidio C. 1, Carnevale A. 2, Pantaleone G. 1

1 Section of Legal Medicine Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences G. d’Annunzio University, Chieti, Italy
2 Department of Legal Medicine G. d’Annunzio University, Chieti, Italy


Though rare, aspiration of foreign bodies into the lower airway during dental procedures may have sequelae that endanger the patient’s health. This article discusses the risks associated with routine dental procedures, patient safety precautions during endodontal therapy, and the medicolegal aspects of professional liability in dentistry. The case concerns a 31-year-old man who inhaled a dental cutter which impacted in the left posterior basal lobe. Bronchoscopy failed to retrieve the object; a magnetic resonance imaging study was performed and the object was removed by video-assisted thoracic surgery. Procedure-related criticalities, precautionary measures for patient safety, and medicolegal implications of professional negligence were identified from dentistry protocols and a review of the literature. Professional liability hinges on scrupulous exercise of care and adoption of safety precautions even in routine “low risk” dental procedures.

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