In a 3 1/2-year period, seven children have been treated for complications of ingestion or aspiration of pull tabs from aluminum beverage cans. One child died from a fistula between the esophagus and a branch of the aortic arch, and two children suffered esophageal perforation with local abscess formation. Since aluminum absorbs x-rays poorly, the pull tabs cannot be seen in frontal projection if they overlie vertebral bodies. Any toddler with unexplained alteration of feeding habits or persistent respiratory symptoms requires evaluation for an aspirated or ingested foreign body.
(JAMA 235:2614-2617, 1976)