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Button battery injuries in the pediatric aerodigestive tract

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December 14, 2015
by Abhinav R. Ettyreddy, BS; Matthew W. Georg, BS; David H. Chi, MD; Barbara A. Gaines, MD; Jeffrey P. Simons, MD


Children with a button battery impaction present with nonspecific symptoms that may account for a delay in medical care. We conducted a retrospective study of the clinical presentation, management, and complications associated with button battery ingestion in the pediatric aerodigestive tract and to evaluate the associated long-term morbidity. We reviewed the medical records of 23 patients who were treated for button battery impaction at our tertiary care children's hospital from Jan. 1, 2000, through July 31, 2013. This population was made up of 14 boys and 9 girls, aged 7 days to 12 years (mean: 4 yr). Patients were divided into three groups based on the site of impaction; there were 9 impactions in the esophagus and 7 each in the nasal cavity and stomach. We compiled information on the type and size of each battery, the duration of the impaction, presenting symptoms, treatment, and outcomes. The mean duration of battery impaction was 40.6, 30.7, and 21.0 hours in the esophagus, nasal cavity, and stomach, respectively. We were able to identify the specific type of battery in 13 cases; 11 of these cases (85%) involved a 3-V 20-mm lithium ion battery, including all cases of esophageal impaction in which the type of battery was identified. The most common presenting signs and symptoms were vomiting (n = 7 [30%]), difficulty feeding (n = 5 [22%]), cough (n = 5), and bloody nasal discharge (n = 5); none of the presenting signs and symptoms predicted the severity of the injury or the outcome. The median length of hospital stay was far greater in the esophageal group (12 days) than in the nasal and stomach groups (1 day each; p = 0.006). Battery impaction in the esophagus for more than 15 hours was associated with a significantly longer postoperative hospital stay than impaction for less than 15 hours (p = 0.04). Esophageal complications included strictures (n = 5), perforation (n = 3), and tracheoesophageal fistula formation (n = 2). Clinicians should consider battery impaction in the upper aerodigestive tract as an emergency that can lead to significant long-term morbidity, and therefore immediate surgical intervention is required.

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