Magnet-Related Injury Rates in Children: A Single Hospital Experience

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Background and Objective:

The ingestion of multiple magnets simultaneously or the placement of magnets in both nares can lead to serious injury resulting from the attraction of the magnets across the tissues. The impact of mandatory standards for toys containing magnets has not been thoroughly investigated. The aim of the present study was to describe the emergency department (ED) visit rate for magnet-related injuries.


We performed a retrospective study of children evaluated for magnet-related injuries from 1995 to 2012 in an urban tertiary care pediatric ED. We identified cases using a computerized text-search methodology followed by manual chart review. We included children evaluated for magnet ingestion or impaction in the ears, nose, vagina, or rectum. We assessed the type and number of magnets as well as management and required interventions. A Poisson regression model was used to analyze rates of injury over time.


We identified 112 cases of magnet injuries. The median patient age was 6 years (IQR 3.5, 10), and 54% were male. Compared to before 2006, the rate for all magnet-related injuries in 2007–2012 (incidence rate ratio 3.44; 95% confidence interval 2.3–5.11) as well as multiple magnet-related injuries (incidence rate ratio 7.54; 95% confidence interval 3.51–16.19) increased. Swallowed magnets accounted for 86% of the injuries. Thirteen patients had endoscopy performed for magnet removal (12%), and 4 (4%) had a surgical intervention. Magnets from toys account for the majority of the injuries.


The number of ED visits for magnet-related injuries in children may be rising and are underreported, with an increase in the proportion of multiple magnets involvement. In our case series, mandatory standard for toys had no mitigating effect.

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