Esophageal bougienage (1854)

Key points below

What is esophageal bougienage? 

If your child swallowed a coin and it is stuck, it needs to be removed. The coin is probably in the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus). The coin may be moved out of the esophagus.  This is called an esophageal bougienage. Special tubes, called dilators, are used to push the coin into your child’s stomach.

When is it done? 

The doctor will look at 5 things to see if esophageal bougienage is right for your child: 
The stuck item must be a coin.
The coin must have been in the esophagus for less than 24 hours.
Your child has not had a foreign object in the esophagus before.
Your child does not have respiratory problems, such as a hard time breathing.
Your child has not had esophageal surgery.

How is it done?

Your child will be wrapped in a towel or blanket to hold their arms and legs still.  This is called swaddling. 
Your child will be asked to open their mouth very wide. 
When your child’s mouth is open, a tube called a dilator will be put very quickly into the esophagus. This will push the coin into your child’s stomach. The dilator will be put into the esophagus one time only and will be removed quickly.  Your child may gag when the dilator is put in and taken out.
After the procedure, your child will have another x-ray to make sure that the coin is in the stomach.   
Sometimes the coin does not pass into the stomach. This is rare. If the coin does not pass, your child will need to have a procedure called an esophagoscopy.

What care will my child need after the procedure?

Your child may have a sore throat for about one day. 
Offer your child fluids often. 
Feed your child a diet of soft foods for one day.
If your child’s throat is sore, pain medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) may help. Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about using this medicine for your child.
You do not need to check your child’s stool for the passed coin. Once the coin is out of the esophagus, it will pass without problem.


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child:

  • Has a hard time swallowing.
  • Is drooling more than normal.
  • Vomits large clots of blood.
  • Has decreased appetite that does not get better over time.
  • Cries all the time or you are not able to comfort your child.
  • Has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.