Vocal cord paralysis following lithium button battery ingestion in children

Eur J Pediatr. 2021 Apr;180(4):1059-1066. doi: 10.1007/s00431-020-03830-1. Epub 2020 Oct 13.


This study reports on vocal cord paralysis caused by esophageal button battery (BB) ingestion in children. Medical records of children with vocal cord paralysis and esophageal BB ingestion treated at a tertiary referral institute between January 2016 and March 2020 were reviewed. Five patients aged 9-58 months were identified; three were male. Each patient had accidentally swallowed a 20-mm-diameter lithium battery (3 CR2032 type and 2 CR2025 type). One battery was removed within 4 h after ingestion, and three batteries were removed within 12 h. Removal of the battery was achieved with rigid esophagoscopy in four patients and direct laryngoscopy in one patient. Four patients had bilateral, and one had unilateral vocal cord paralysis. Three patients underwent tracheotomy; two were tracheotomy-dependent until follow-up, while the third patient died of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome a month after surgery. The two cases without tracheotomy remain under close follow-up.Conclusion: Accidentally ingested button batteries should be removed promptly to avoid severe complications. Respiratory support and neurotrophic treatment in the early stage of vocal cord paralysis may be beneficial for recovery of vocal cord movement. What is Known: • Button battery ingestion in children is extremely harmful, especially when the diameter of the button battery exceeds 20 mm. • Esophageal button battery impaction can cause serious complications such as esophageal perforation, mediastinal infection, tracheoesophageal fistula, vocal cord paralysis, and life-threatening bleeding. What is New: • Vocal cord paralysis in children with button battery ingestion plays an early warning role for identifying the severity of the disease. • Early neurotrophic drugs and glucocorticoid therapy may be helpful for the recovery of vocal cord movement, thereby avoiding tracheotomy.

Keywords: Button battery ingestion; Coin cell lithium battery ingestion; Tracheotomy; Vocal cord paralysis.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Eating
  • Electric Power Supplies / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies* / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lithium
  • Male
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis* / etiology


  • Lithium