Soft tissue foreign bodies must be identified and located before treatment decisions can be made. Imaging studies should be ordered in most cases where a retained foreign body is suspected but not found during wound exploration or when thorough wound exploration is technically impossible. They are also useful after initial removal of multiple foreign bodies to determine if all the pieces were found.
A number of imaging modalities are available. The ability of any of these modalities to find a foreign body depends on the characteristics of the study as well as the object's size, shape, density, and orientation relative to the imaging beam. Materials that are the same density as surrounding soft tissue are difficult to see with any type of radiographic or sonographic technique.
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