Button batteries that pass to the stomach may warrant rapid endoscopic removal



SAN DIEGO – A button battery lodged in a child’s esophagus is an acknowledged emergency, but there is less evidence about retrieval of button batteries that have passed to the stomach. Observation alone has been recommended when an x-ray determines that the button battery has passed to the stomach within 2 hours of ingestion, when the battery is less than 20 mm, and the child is aged at least 5 years.

At the annual Digestive Disease Week, Racha Khalaf, MD, and Thomas Walker, MD, both of Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora, presented data that call this approach into question. Their retrospective cohort study of 4 years’ worth of records from four pediatric centers in the United States identified 68 cases in which a pediatric gastroenterologist had endoscopically removed the button battery. In 60% of those cases, the battery had already caused mucosal damage varying from minor to deep necrosis and perforation.

Further, the degree of injury was not correlated with symptoms, strengthening the recommendation for retrieving the button battery from the stomach.

In our exclusive video interview, Dr. Khalaf and Dr. Walker discussed the impact of their findings for guidelines for pediatric gastroenterologists and Poison Control Center advice to parents about ingestion of button batteries.

Their study was partly supported by a Cystic Fibrosis Foundational Grant Award and by National Institutes of Health Training Grants.

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