Battery ingestion in children

Tal Marom, Abraham Goldfarb, Eyal Russo, Yehudah Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Introduction: Ingestion of batteries by children became more frequent in recent years, due to the increasing accessibility of electronic toys and devices to children. Due to their electrochemical composition, impacted batteries in the esophagus may cause an extensive damage. Following the removal of a battery, the post-esophagoscopy management is still controversial. Case presentation: An otherwise healthy 8 year-old boy presented to the pediatric emergency room 3. h after the unintentional swallowing of a lithium battery. On examination, the patient was diaphoretic and tachypneic. Plain PA chest film revealed a 2.5. cm diameter radiopaque round object in the upper esophagus. The patient was scheduled for an urgent rigid esophagoscopy which was performed 2. h after admission. Esophagoscopy findings included an impacted lithium battery in an advanced emptying process at a level of 17. cm from the incisor teeth, with a 3rd degree ulcerative esophagitis. It was not possible to visualize either the distal esophagus or the stomach. A nasogastric tube was not inserted because of a significant risk for esophageal perforation if bluntly passed. Post-operative medical therapy included fasting, administration of intravenous antibiotic therapy, antacids, and steroids. Flexible esophagoscopy superior to the level of the mucosal injury performed one day later, revealed erosive esophagitis, without evidence of perforation. Upper digestive tract gastrografin swallow test performed 2 days after esophagoscopy did not demonstrate a leak from the esophagus, and oral feeding was carefully re-initiated. Treatment was discontinued the following day. Follow up on days 10 and 14 revealed a healthy child with normal swallowing. Discussion: Battery ingestion-related injury results from direct pressure necrosis, local electrical currents and alkali leakage. Signs and symptoms of ingested battery are related to impaction duration, size of battery, battery content and peristaltic waves of the esophagus. Appropriate imaging studies should be performed to maximize identification of the foreign body before esophagoscopy. Esophageal stenting and adjuvant medical therapy (steroid therapy, antibiotic therapy and anti-reflux therapy) have a low evidence level of clinical benefit following caustic injuries from impacted batteries and spillage of their content to the esophagus. A judicious management should be tailored in each patient. Increased public and health personnel awareness is necessary to diminish the incidence of battery ingestion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-854
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Battery
  • Esophagus
  • Foreign body
  • Imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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