Severity of button batteries ingestions: data from French Poison Control Centres between 1999 and 2015

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Abstract

Background

Although the ingestion of button batteries is an infrequent situation, it leads to a significant risk of causing serious damage.

Objective

This study was carried out to describe all the cases of button battery ingestion recorded by the French Poison Control Centers over 16 years.

Patients and methods

All the cases of button battery ingestion were recorded from 1 January 1999 to the end of June 2015, analysed (age, sex, number of ingested button batteries, clinical signs and treatments) and graded for severity according to the poisoning severity score.

Results

The incidence of button batteries ingestions was constant over the 16-year period, with an average of 266±98.5 cases per year and a total of 4030 cases. Nevertheless, 21 cases were severe and two deaths occurred. Interestingly, for the two patients who died, the battery was stuck in the oesophagus and they presented anorexia and/or dysphagia, abdominal pain and fever and in one case, a melena 3 weeks after ingestion. Importantly, these symptoms were observed even if the battery was expelled in one fatal case.

Conclusion

Ingestions of button batteries still occur and may cause serious damage, especially in children, and if the button battery is stuck in the oesophagus as it might cause severe symptoms. Patients who have ingested a button battery must be directed to the emergency department for medical evaluation, even if the button battery has been expelled from the body and even more if gastrointestinal symptoms are present.

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