Disk Battery Ingestion Workup

Updated: Dec 28, 2015
  • Author: Daniel J Dire, MD, FACEP, FAAP, FAAEM; Chief Editor: Asim Tarabar, MD  more...
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Workup

Laboratory Studies

Obtain blood and urine mercury levels only if the mercury-containing cell has been observed to fragment in the GI tract or radiopaque droplets are observed in the gut on radiographs.

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Imaging Studies

Radiography is indicated to confirm the ingestion and to establish the location of ingested disk batteries. Disk batteries have a relatively characteristic appearance on radiograph. When viewed from above, they appear much like a coin; however, a double density is often present. When viewed on edge, a much more rounded edge with a step off at the junction of the cathode and anode is seen (see the image below).

Lateral radiographic appearance of a 7.9-mm disk b Lateral radiographic appearance of a 7.9-mm disk battery. Photographed by Daniel J. Dire, MD.

Batteries located in the esophagus on initial radiograph frequently (28%) pass into the stomach spontaneously.

Radiopaque droplets in the gut may be found on radiograph in patients with fragmented mercuric oxide cells.

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