3-year-old Swallows 14 Magnetic Balls, Survives Post-Life-Saving Surgery

~ Doctors at Dr Mehta’s Hospitals Performed life-saving surgery and removed magnetic balls after 7 days of ingestion ~

Chennai, 9th May 2022: Doctors at Dr Mehta’s Hospitals, Velapanchavadi, Chennai saved the life of a Three-year-old girl child from Chennai who had swallowed small magnetic balls in number over a few days while playing at home. The expert team headed by Dr Madhu performed an emergency Laprotomy surgery, a major surgery with a long incision in the stomach wall which enabled the surgeons to remove the 14 magnetic balls from the child’s body and a part of the ileum (small intestine) and Reanastomosis was done as the bowel was found to be non-viable. The magnetic balls were removed in Three hours of surgery after seven days of ingestion. 

Lakshmi (Name Changed), a 3-year-old girl was rushed to Dr Mehta’s Hospital recently with complaints of high-grade fever, bilious vomiting, and abdominal pain for three days. She was treated for gastroenteritis/ UTI at other hospitals in the prior days. The child had developed abdominal distension and hence was referred to Dr Mehta’s hospitals. On probing the history, the child admitted to swallowing foreign bodies, multiple over a few days and parents confirmed missing magnetic balls at home. She presented with Septic shock requiring fluid resuscitation/ antibiotics/ ionotropes and supportive care. A CT abdomen was taken, which showed multiple magnetic balls in the small intestine with perforation and pneumoperitoneum. Doctors decided to perform emergency Laprotomy surgery which showed multiple perforations of the small intestine with pus flakes present in the peritoneal cavity. 14 magnetic balls were removed from the child’s body. 

Post-surgery, the child developed coagulopathy/anemia from sepsis requiring FFP / blood transfusion. She developed peritonitis requiring higher antibiotics as her peritoneal fluid was culture positive for 2 microorganisms (E.Coli / Klebsiella). The child was given parental nutrition through an IV line for 5 days. On day 5 of the postoperative period, she was started on oral feeds, which she tolerated well and was afebrile and abdominal distension settled. She was discharged with oral antibiotics after 10 days post-surgery.

The ingestion of magnetic objects poses a significant health risk to children, with severe morbidity and mortality, especially with multiple magnetic objects ingestion, as magnetic attraction through bowel walls can cause gastrointestinal injury such as mural pressure necrosis, bowel perforation, fistula formation, or intestinal obstruction, all of which were present in this child said Dr Madhu, Pediatric Surgeon, Dr Mehta’s Hospitals. The intestinal injury was very severe in this child due to multiple magnetic foreign bodies and hence she had post-operative issues and a prolonged stay in the hospital added Dr Madhu. 
Pediatric Surgeon

Many children would have a prolonged hospital stay following GI surgery. The mortality in such cases can rise to 25- 30 % even with intervention, mainly due to peritonitis and septicemia said Dr Manoj, Head of Pediatrics Department, Dr Metha’s Hospitals. He urged the parents to be cautious that young children should not have access to toys or objects that contain small magnets or metals.

Our pediatric gastroenterologists and specialists have been at the forefront of advances in diagnosing and treating any kind of pediatric case, our facility has a level 3 PICU on par with international standards attending to life-threatening conditions of children over the past few years, said Dr Kannan, Group Medical Director, Dr Mehta’s Hospitals. 

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