Objective: Computed tomography (CT) virtual bronchoscopy is a noninvasive technique that provides an internal view of trachea and major bronchi by three-dimensional reconstruction. The aim of this study was to investigate the usefulness of virtual bronchoscopy in the evaluation of suspected foreign body aspiration in children. Materials and methods: Twenty-three children (12 girls, 11 boys) with a mean age of 2.4 years (8 months-14 years) who were admitted to emergency room with a suspicion of foreign, body aspiration were included in this study. Chest radiograms, spiral computed tomography scans and virtual bronchoscopy images were obtained. Then, rigid bronchoscopy was performed within 24 h. Results: CT virtual bronchoscopy and conventional bronchoscopy revealed the location of the foreign body in seven patients. It was in the right main bronchus in four patients, in the right lower lobe bronchus in one patient, and in the left main bronchus in two patients. There was no discordance between two modalities. CT examination revealed hyperaeration of the ipsilateral lung in four patients, hyperaeration of the ipsilateral lung and mediastinal shift in one patient and bronchiectatic changes in one patient. CT detected no additional finding in one patient with a foreign body in the right main bronchus. In 10 of 16 patients without foreign body, CT examination demonstrated atelectasis, infiltration, peribronchial thickening, and paratracheal lymphadenpoathy. Conclusion: Helical CT scanning with virtual bronchoscopy should be performed in only selected cases with suspected foreign body aspiration. When the chest radiograph is normal and the clinical diagnosis suggests aspirated foreign body, helical CT and virtual bronchoscopy can be considered in order to avoid needless rigid bronchoscopy. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.