A 66-year-old woman had 50 batteries removed from her stomach and colon after presenting herself to an Emergency Department at a Dublin hospital. The woman swallowed the batteries in an apparent act of deliberate self-harm.
The woman passed five other batteries after being admitted to St Vincent’s University Hospital. This brought the total number batteries ingested to 55.
Surgeons at the hospital, who authored the report, believe the number to be the highest amount of batteries to be ingested at one time. Fortunately, the woman made an “uneventful” recovery after the batteries were removed, reports show.
According to the report, an abdominal X-ray confirmed the presence of multiple batteries located throughout the woman’s abdomen after she presented to the ED. A trial of conservative management was initially pursued which resulted in five AA batteries being successfully passed through her rectum over the course of a week.
The woman underwent daily clinical examinations as well as weekly abdominal X-rays. These scans revealed the remaining batteries had not progressed and the patient had begun to complain of abdominal pain.
The report states: “A decision was made to perform a laparotomy where we identified a distended stomach pulled down into the suprapubic area. 46 cylindrical batteries were removed from the stomach through a small gastrostomy and four batteries located in the colon were milked into the rectum and removed via the trans anal route, using an anal retractor and long forceps. Intra-operative X-ray confirmed retrieval of all batteries and the patient made an uneventful recovery.”
The teams from the Department of Colorectal Surgery and the Department of Radiology said the deliberate ingestion of batteries was an apparent act of self-harm. The surgeons described this as a an “unusual presentation”.
The report added: “Conservative management and endoscopic retrieval can be considered in cases of cylindrical battery ingestion. Signs of airway compromise, oesophageal obstruction or perforation are an indication for emergency endoscopy.
“Endoscopic extraction of food impaction and foreign bodies from the upper digestive tract is successful in 95% of cases. In this case, given the large number of batteries, endoscopic retrieval was not feasible.
“Conservative management is possible if a small number of cylindrical batteries are ingested and make it to the stomach. Daily clinical exams and weekly plain films of the abdomen are necessary. In this case 9 batteries passed through the pylorus and ileocaecal valve into the colon.”
Some of the batteries that were removed were the larger AA size. Doctors warned the potential of serious surgical emergencies from ingesting batteries should not be underestimated.