ST Segment Elevation Caused by Artifact From Cylindrical Battery Ingestion

J Emerg Med. 2020 Apr;58(4):673-676. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2019.12.027. Epub 2020 Jan 27.


Background: Ingestion of cylindrical batteries is uncommon. Management can include removal via upper endoscopy, surgical excision, or observation. This case demonstrates the rare phenomenon of cylindrical battery ingestion causing an electrocardiogram (ECG) artifact that mimics ST segment myocardial infarction (STEMI).

Case report: A 51-year-old man who ingested 13 small pencils and 18 AA batteries was found to have ST segment elevation in the inferior leads of the ECG. Further cardiac workup including cardiac biomarkers and transthoracic echocardiogram was negative, and his ECG changes resolved after extraction of the batteries. The ST segment changes were most likely caused by electrical artifact from battery ingestion. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: When faced with an ECG finding that is unexpected and that does not fit the patient's overall clinical picture, emergency physicians should consider artifact as a possible cause. Recognition of artifact as the cause of an ECG abnormality can obviate the need for a prolonged and potentially invasive cardiac workup.

Keywords: ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction; battery ingestion; electrocardiogram.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Eating
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction* / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction* / etiology
  • ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction*