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Disc Battery Ingestion May Cause Severe Injuries in Babies
Date:9/21/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Small disc batteries can do severe damage to the esophagus of very young children who accidentally swallow them, a new pediatric case-study review suggests.

The analysis, which included 10 boys and girls as young as 10 months old, reinforces growing concern over the dangers posed by the increasing ubiquity of such disc (or "button") batteries, generally smaller than a nickel, in a wide array of household products.

Stanley J. Kimball of Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus, Ohio, led a review of the treatments of 10 pediatric patients who accidentally swallowed a disc battery at some point between 1998 and 2008. His work was published in the September issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

All 10 cases reviewed by Kimball involved endoscopic retrieval of such discs following X-rays and chest scans. The time that elapsed before treatment began ranged from six hours to 30 days. Half of the patients had either been observed swallowing the battery or were brought to the hospital following a cough. Two others spoke of their accident and complained of a sore throat. The remaining three patients were diagnosed by chance when in hospital, for other reasons.

When swallowed, the battery gets stuck in a child's esophagus, and its interaction with bodily fluids prompts an electrical discharge that can cause tissue burning and severe damage.

Although three of the children experienced only minimal or superficial injury, five experienced severe damage to their esophageal lining, and two (those experiencing the longest delay to treatment) sustained a perforation to their esophagus. In one case, widespread injury resulted in the opening up of a hole between the patient's trachea and esophagus.

The study team concluded that such disc battery accidents can have serious consequences for young patients, and
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