Glass foreign bodies

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Glass foreign bodies may be present if they are ingested, inserted or as a result of injury. 


The prevalence of glass foreign bodies in wounds from injury has been recorded in 1.5% in superficial (subcutaneous) wounds and 7.5% of deeper wounds 1

Radiographic appearance

Plain radiograph

Only ~10% of x-rays ordered for investigation of retained foreign bodies are positive (reflecting the low incidence post injury) but x-rays are excellent at detecting radiopaque foreign bodies with ~85% being detected 6:

  • glass is always radiopaque, independent of lead content or other additives
  • should be visible on plain films if larger than 2 mm 2, 5
  • can be used to further localise foreign bodies and define the relationship with soft tissue structures and assess for further injuries
  • appears hyperechoic with posterior shadowing and often demonstrates reverberation artifact
  • if present for >24 hours may demonstrate a hypoechoic ring 3-4
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Article Information

rID: 25250
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Glass injury
  • Glass foreign body
  • Glass foreign bodies
  • Glass injuries

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Cases and Figures

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    Case 1: x-ray
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    Case 2: ultrasound
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    Case 3: MRI
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    Case 4: with skin marker
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    Case 5: glass in the wrist
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    Case 6: ultrasound
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