9 March 2012
Canadian doctors have detailed the case of a boy who swallowed 5 ball magnets.
The 3-year-old had no symptoms, but an X-ray revealed a "string-like formation" of magnetic balls in his stomach.
" ... ingestion of multiple magnetic beads can lead to severe harm," the authors said.
"This is in contrast with other foreign bodies - including sharp objects or disk batteries - which pass through the intestine in the majority of cases spontaneously without complications."
The boy's magnets were retrieved via an emergency endoscopic procedure, and without complication, before they could enter his small intestine.
Magnets can cause problems if they make their way on to opposite sides of bodily tissue such as betweeen mucosal folds of the stomach or loops of bowel.
The attractive forces can block or perforate the gut, the doctors warn.
Among 128 cases of multiple magnet ingestion resulting in harm worldwide, there was one fatality, researchers said.
Last Reviewed: 09 March 2012