Interesting Case Studies

Smelly Discharge from the Nose

History: A 5 year old boy arrived in our clinic with a story of foul-smelling discharge from his right nostril. The colour of the discharge is yellowish and his mother has noticed the smell and discharge for 2 weeks although the child is otherwise quite comfortable and happy.

What we did: The child was examined using a fibreoptic nasoendoscope. This is a very fine calibre scope that is attached to a camera system to allow the doctor to examine the inside of the nose, which would not be possible otherwise. As a simple office procedure, the child is seated comfortably on his mommy’s lap while the doctor introduces the scope to examine. Typically this would only take less than 5 minutes.

Diagnosis: A foreign body (broken off eraser) was found lodged in the nostril of the child

Treatment: The child was subsequently brought to the operating room where the foreign body was successfully retrieved in a simple day surgery procedure using a rigid nasoendoscopy.

About the condition: Young children sometimes insert toys and foreign materials into their nostrils without alerting their parents. This result in infection of the nose/sinus and pus will form which presents as a foul-smelling discharge. As a general rule, any young child with a single sided nose discharge must be suspected of foreign body until proven otherwise. Given the sophisticated and non-invasive equipment and set up that we have, this mystery can be easily solved

Contributed by: Dr Eng Soh Ping Elliot