Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Orthopedic Teaching

Soft Tissue Case 3 Diagnosis

Wound Foreign Body


Neither wound exploration nor radiologic studies are sensitive enough alone to rule out a WFB so the two should be used in complement.
WFBs that are radiopaque and should be visible on plain film x rays with soft tissue technique are:

• Metal
• Glass
• Teeth
• Pencil tips
• Gravel

Be aware that these WFBs may still be missed radiographically if in bony areas such as the foot or hand or if very small.
WFBs that are non-radiopaque will not typically be visible on plain films regardless of size. These include:

• Wood
• Plastic
• Vegetative matter
• Clothing

If an imaging study is needed in these scenarios, ultrasound is usually the best initial choice and should detect all WFB materials.