Button Battery Ingestion: A Case Report

Between 1995 and 2015, more than 750,000 children under the age of six were seen in emergency departments across the country for suspected or confirmed cases of foreign body ingestion, representing a 93.3% increase in cases. A recent article published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care reported on a case review of a 17-month-old child who ingested a button battery requiring emergency surgery.

The most common objects ingested by young children tend to be coins, toys, jewelry and batteries, with 80-90% passing without intervention. However, some cases are more severe and require one or more life-saving interventions. In the case study, the toddler was found to have ingested a button battery that was lodged in the esophagus requiring immediate removal to avoid complications such as ulcerations, perforations, tracheoesophageal fistula formation, strictures, necrosis and vascular involvement — which are often fatal.

Optimal prevention strategies for button battery ingestion focus on primary prevention. Button batteries are found in many household items such as remote controls, toys, games and decorative objects. To address this issue, button battery manufacturers have taken steps toward prevention such as child-secure packaging and a nontoxic bitter coating on the batteries to discourage young children from swallowing these products.

In situations of ingestion, it is crucial to be aware of the treatment guidelines from the National Capitol Poison Center for button battery ingestion. These guidelines offer help to providers in managing known or suspected battery ingestions. With the rise in cases seen and the need for a timely diagnosis, it is important for providers to keep up to date with guidance and practical treatment strategies.

“Make sure you have access to honey in your emergency department for children older than 12 months of age and who can swallow,” said Mary Jean Ohns, DNP, APRN, CPNP-AC/PC, CCRN. In cases of ingestion, “the honey protects the tissues adjacent to the negative pole of the battery, thus aiding in preventing alkaline burns.”

The article, “Button Battery Ingestion: A Case Report,” was published in the September/October edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed here.

Sept. 29, 2022

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