The child was referred to Schneider’s ER by the community physician after an x-ray of the abdomen revealed the earth magnets all stuck together in the child’s duodenum. Removing the magnets was urgent because their passage into the child’s intestine could have led to hemorrahaging and further complications including perforation of the colon, infection and even death.
The child was treated by specialists from the Institute of Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Liver Diseases, headed by Prof. Raanan Shamir, and immediately transferred to the operating room to undergo a gastroscopy (a fiberoptic examination of the stomach) to locate the magnets.
The procedure was conducted by senior gastroenterologist Dr. Avi Silbermintz, anesthetist Dr. Dmitiry Shmain, and a nurse in the Gastroenerology Institute, Tamara Gulkrov.
The gastroscopy showed the magnets in the duodenum at the edge of the endoscopic length. In a delicate procedure, doctors carefully pulled the magnets through the child’s stomach and from there, out via the esophagus. Following the procedure, the child recovered quickly and was discharged in full health from the hospital.
As mentioned, the biggest danger in swallowing a number of magnets is that the magnetic force can pull different parts of the intestinal folds which become stuck together. This can stop the flow of blood to the affected portion leading to necrosis (gangrene) and perforation of the colon. In this instance, urgent surgical intervention is a necessity that may include excision of the damaged area.
Dr. Silbermintz noted that “sadly, small children swallowing foreign bodies is not uncommon and can seriously endanger the child. Swallowing magnets, especially earth magnets that are exceptionally strong and dangerous, can lead to significant damage to the child’s digestive system and put his life in danger. We at Schneider Children’s recommend again and again that parents keep these magnets away from small children. If there is any suspicion of magnets having been swallowed, the child must be taken to hospital immediately.”