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May 2011, Volume 41 Number 5 , p 56 - 56


  • Bridget Parsh EdD, RN, CNS


An 18-month-old child was brought to our ED after swallowing a button battery. What should we be concerned about clinically?-A.L., TENN.Bridget Parsh, EdD, RN, CNS, and Amanda Amarrador, BSN, reply: Young children may swallow these small batteries (also known as disc batteries) even while they're being observed, and older children may inadvertently swallow them while holding the battery in their mouths during the process of changing batteries.1 Parents or caregivers should take a child who's swallowed a button battery to the ED right away rather than waiting for symptoms to develop.2Most ingestions are uneventful, but if the battery becomes lodged in the esophagus, children can experience serious complications, such as esophageal burns, fistula, or perforation.1 Chances of esophageal perforation are extremely high after 8 hours, but significant damage can occur in as little as 2 hours.3Common sources of ingested batteries are electronic devices such as games, watches, cameras, remote control

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