A 66-year-old woman swallowed 50 batteries..and doctors intervene!!

20 September, 2022
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A 66-year-old woman swallowed 50 batteries..and doctors intervene!!

Doctors in Ireland have removed about 50 batteries from a woman's intestines and stomach after she swallowed them in what appears to be a deliberate act of self-harm.

The 66-year-old woman was treated at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin after ingesting an "unknown number" of cylinder batteries, according to a case report published Thursday (September 15) in the Irish Medical Journal.

An X-ray revealed a large number of batteries in her abdomen, although fortunately none of them appeared to be obstructing the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and no batteries showed signs of structural damage.

The treatment team initially took a "conservative" approach, meaning they closely monitored the patient to see how many and how many batteries would pass through the digestive system on their own. Over a one-week period, five AA batteries passed, but X-rays taken over the next three weeks showed that the vast majority of the batteries failed to continue advancing through her body. By this time, the patient was experiencing diffuse abdominal pain.

Then she underwent a laparotomy, where they found that the stomach, tightened by the weight of the batteries, became distended and extended in the area above the pubic bone.

The team then cut a small hole in the stomach and removed 46 batteries from the organ. These included AA and AAA batteries. And four additional batteries, stuck in the colon, were pulled into the rectum and expelled through the anus — bringing the total number of batteries ingested to 55. Then, a final X-ray confirmed that the woman's digestive system was officially free of batteries and she continued her "quiet recovery."

"To our knowledge, this case represents the largest reported number of batteries ingested at any one time," the doctors wrote in their case report.

"Deliberate ingestion of several large AA batteries as a form of intentional self-harm is an unusual symptom," doctors reported. In the most common cases, batteries can sometimes pass through the body without causing harm. But if it gets stuck in the throat, it can cause serious and even life-threatening injuries, according to UCSF's Benioff Children's Hospitals. This is because saliva releases an electrical current into the trapped batteries, which leads to a chemical reaction that burns the esophagus and can lead to severe tissue damage and bleeding.

"The potential of cylinder batteries to cause acute surgical emergencies should not be underestimated," the case report says.

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