Q. How to remove a magnet that was swallowed by a 3-year-old girl?

Answered by
Dr. Faisal Abdul Karim Malim
and medically reviewed by Dr.Nithila A
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 20, 2019

Hello doctor,

My 3-year-old granddaughter swallowed a thin magnet 11 days ago. We have been three times to the ER for X-rays. It is in the lower intestine but has not moved for several days. Today at the hospital, the surgeon said they would not attempt a colonoscopy or any procedure. If it remains in the intestine for 30 days, (as long as no infection), then they will remove it. Is this normal procedure for a metal magnet?

Dr. Faisal Abdul Karim Malim

Child Health Paediatrics


Welcome to icliniq.com.

Yes, what is described by the surgeon is right. However, I would advise for you to feed the child more of bananas so that it may help to push the magnet out. In such a case, we need to watch out for any intestinal obstruction that may result due to the magnet. This can develop at any time and may result in an emergency. The warning signs for you should be abdominal distention, excessive vomiting episodes of undigested or semi-digested food particles and the child not passing stools at all, severe abdominal pain, and the sudden collapse of the child.

Any of these signs occur, it is an emergency, and the child should be taken to the nearest hospital immediately. Also, you should watch out for any fever episodes with any form of the clinical worsening of the child's condition. If these signs do not occur, it is advisable to monitor the position of the magnet either daily or on alternate day basis by doing an x-ray abdomen. In most cases, the magnet usually comes out on its own without any external intervention. However, in very rare circumstances, a response based on the position of the magnet in the intestine is performed if the magnet stays inside for long periods or if any of the signs mentioned above develop.

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