Gastrointestinal damage caused by swallowing multiple magnets

Front Med. 2012 Sep;6(3):280-7. doi: 10.1007/s11684-012-0207-5. Epub 2012 Aug 11.


Swallowing multiple magnets is not uncommon worldwide and it frequently leads to serious consequences. However, most patients fail to receive timely and correct diagnosis and treatment. A literature search was performed to establish an algorithm for these accidents by the authors to identify relevant articles published from June 1987 to October 2010 in Google, Medline, ISI Web of Knowledge Ovid, CNKI, Korea Med and library document delivery, using search terms "magnet ingestion, " "fistula," and "perforation." A total of 149 patients with ingestion of magnetic foreign bodies from 20 countries and areas were identified. 22 of them were companioned with neurological and psychiatric disorders. Swallowing magnets occurred throughout childhood and adolescent, mostly ranging 2 to 4 years in age. Various gastrointestinal damages such as necrosis and intestinal perforation or fistula were encountered. Damage from swallowing multiple magnets carries a significant risk of morbidity and even mortality throughout childhood to adolescent worldwide. Older children and adults with neurological and psychiatric problems may be at high risk for such accidents. Early intervention is crucial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms
  • Child
  • Deglutition
  • Foreign Bodies / complications*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Fistula / etiology
  • Intestinal Perforation / etiology*
  • Magnets*
  • Necrosis / etiology
  • Play and Playthings