Disc Batteries

Disc batteries are a common, potentially caustic ingestant. Each year, there are approximately 2000 disc battery ingestions in the United States, mostly by children younger than age 6 (Iable175-1). Batteries may contain manganese dioxide, zinc, mercuric acid, silver oxide, or lithium in an alkaline medium. Most disc batteries pass through the GI tract without incident. Batteries have the potential for alkali injury if they leak secondary to casing damage or from hydroxide production related to external current from intact batteries. Pressure necrosis may also play a role in injury if the disc battery becomes lodged in the GI tract. Heavy-metal toxicities, while a theoretical consideration in disc battery ingestion, have not been documented. 20

With patients who present after disc battery ingestion, chest and abdominal radiographs should be obtained to determine the position of the battery. Batteries in the airway or esophagus should be removed by endoscopy/bronchoscopy immediately. If a battery has passed the gastroesophageal junction and appears to be in the stomach, then a follow-up film should be obtained in 24 to 48 h to ensure that the battery has passed through the pylorus. Batteries in the intestines should pass without difficulty, but checking the stools and follow-up film are used to ensure passage.

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