A penny for your thoughts: small bowel obstruction secondary to coin ingestion

J Emerg Med. 2004 Oct;27(3):249-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2004.03.013.


We report a case of small bowel obstruction secondary to coin ingestion. A 22-year-old woman presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with a 3-week history of abdominal pain. Upon initial history the patient denied any foreign body ingestion. Only after computed tomography (CT) scanning of the abdomen and pelvis did the patient admit to deliberate ingestion of a single United States penny coin. During surgical evaluation it was found that the coin had lodged near the ileocecal valve and an inflammatory mass had formed around the intraluminal coin, causing a 10 x 7 cm fibrous tumor to completely obstruct the small bowel. It is thought that oxidation of the coin, with subsequent exposure of its high zinc content, instigated the inflammatory cascade.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen, Acute / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdomen, Acute / surgery
  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Abdominal Pain / surgery
  • Adult
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / complications*
  • Foreign-Body Reaction / etiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Intestinal Obstruction / etiology*
  • Numismatics*
  • Radiography