Results of 125 battery ingestions in 114 separate episodes over an 11-month period are analyzed. The 125 batteries included 119 button batteries and six cylindrical cells. The location of batteries just prior to ingestion (loose or discarded [48.7%], in product [34.4%], in manufacturer's battery packaging [3.4%]) determined the need for consumer education of this potential hazard. The observation that hearing aid batteries were the most common type swallowed (33.9%), and that 14 batteries were ingested by hearing-impaired children after they removed the batteries from their own aids, further directs appropriate prevention efforts. All the larger cylindrical batteries and 89.9% of the button cells passed through the gastrointestinal tract spontaneously. Endoscopic retrieval was unsuccessful in 66.7% of cases attempted. Ipecac syrup, administered to 11 patients, uniformly failed to expel the battery. Transit time was within 48 hours for 68.8% of button cells, and 85.4% of the batteries were passed by 72 hours, with a range of 12 hours to 14 days. Once beyond the esophagus, arrested battery progression failed to correlate with adverse outcome. Symptoms developed in 11 patients but were only severe in the single case of esophageal lodgment. The vast majority of battery ingestions are benign and can be managed without endoscopic or surgical intervention.

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