Magnet ingestion

Recently, a different type of magnet (also known as Neo magnet, Bucky balls, Magnet balls or Super Strong Rare-Earth Magnets) has gone on sale. They are most often sold as adult desk toys, stress relievers or brain development toys. It is illegal to sell them to children less than 14 years of age.

They are between seven and 14 times stronger than traditional magnets and are sometimes called super strong or powerful magnets.  They can be a variety of shapes, most often balls or discs.  These are some examples of what they look like.

Recently, a different type of magnet (also known as Neo magnet, Bucky balls, Magnet balls or Super Strong Rare-Earth Magnets) has gone on sale. They are most often sold as adult desk toys, stress relievers or brain development toys. It is illegal to sell them to children less than 14 years of age.

Today, your child has been discharged after swallowing a magnet.  Even though the magnet has not passed through them yet, it is OK to take your child home.

After going home, your child will need a follow up X-ray 6 to12 hours later. You should have a time to come back to the Emergency Department. This follow up X-ray is extremely important so doctors can make sure the magnet is moving normally through your child’s bowels.

Until your child has had their repeat X-ray, remove any other external magnetic objects nearby. They must not wear clothes with metallic buttons or belts with a buckle.

There is no need to examine your child’s faeces (poo) to find the swallowed object.

If your child swallowed a single magnet it should pass through of its own accord, if it is not too large.

Very rarely, the magnet can become stuck in the stomach or intestines.

Take your child to the Emergency Department IMMEDIATELY if they have any of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Blood in their vomit or stool (poo)
  • A fever
  • If you have concerns about a change in their eating patterns, such as refusing food or fluids, or you are concerned a further magnet or foreign body has been swallowed

Reference:

National Patient Safety Alert:  Urgent assessment/treatment following ingestion of ‘super strong’ magnets  (NatPSA/2021/002/NHSPS)

 

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