Bowel injuries caused by ingestion of multiple magnets in children: a growing hazard

Pediatr Surg Int. 2012 Apr;28(4):367-74. doi: 10.1007/s00383-011-3026-x. Epub 2011 Nov 30.


Purpose: There are no definite guidelines on the management of ingested magnetic objects in children. The aim of this study was to present our experience and to highlight the importance of strict follow-up.

Methods: Within 6 months period, four children presented to the emergency department after ingestion of multiple magnets. We reviewed retrospectively the patients' documents, radiological reports, operative findings and outcome. We also performed a literature search for all reports of multiple magnets ingestion on MEDLINE and EMBASE.

Results: Daily abdominal radiographs to monitor migration of magnetic objects together with clinical examination revealed early detection of perforations in two patients. Explorative laparoscopy and suturing of perforations resulted in a rapid recovery and good cosmetic appearance. Literature search resulted in 44 published articles with a total of 52 cases of multiple magnet ingestion in children.

Conclusions: This report stresses the need for prompt follow-up and early detection of complications in order to operate those patients without delay. Laparoscopy is the method of choice in exploring the abdomen when perforation is suspected.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Foreign Bodies / complications*
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging
  • Foreign Bodies / surgery
  • Humans
  • Intestines / injuries*
  • Magnetics
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies