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Case Reports in Anesthesiology
Volume 2017, Article ID 4381819, 3 pages
Case Report

Postoperative Airway Obstruction by a Bone Fragment

1Department of Anesthesiology, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, 1007 MB Amsterdam, Netherlands
2Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA) and Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Oral Pathology, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, 1007 MB Amsterdam, Netherlands

Correspondence should be addressed to Lothar A. Schwarte; ln.cmuv@etrawhcs.l

Received 25 January 2017; Accepted 27 March 2017; Published 30 March 2017

Academic Editor: Anjan Trikha

Copyright © 2017 Patrick Schober et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Postoperative airway obstructions are potentially life-threatening complications. These obstructions may be classified as functional (sagging tongue, laryngospasm, or bronchospasm), pathoanatomical (airway swelling or hematoma within the airways), or foreign body-related. Various cases of airway obstruction by foreign bodies have previously been reported, for example, by broken teeth or damaged airway instruments. Here we present the exceptional case of a postoperative airway obstruction due to a large fragment of the patient’s maxillary bone, left accidentally in situ after transoral surgical tumor resection. Concerning this type of airway obstruction, we discuss possible causes, diagnosis, and treatment options. Although it is an exceptional case after surgery, clinicians should be aware of this potentially life-threatening complication. In summary, this case demonstrates that the differential diagnosis of postoperative airway obstructions should include foreign bodies derived from surgery, including tissue and bone fragments.