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Ireland: Doctors removed batteries from 66 Old Woman Gut and Stomach act of Self-harm - Report

A 66-year-old woman had 50 cylindrical batteries removed from her stomach and colon by surgeons at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, a new case report has revealed.

In Ireland, doctors removed 55 AA and AAA batteries from a woman's gut and stomach after she swallowed them in a deliberate act of self-harm.

According to a report published by the Irish Medical Journal on Thursday, the 66-year-old woman was getting treated at St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin after devouring an initially "unknown number" of cylindrical batteries, reports Science Alert

The doctor in their report said that this was the highest reported number of "batteries ingested at a single point in time."

The case perplexed the doctors as several reports published in medical journals mentioned instances of a child swallowing small, button-style batteries.

"The deliberate ingestion of multiple large AA batteries as a form of deliberate self-harm is an unusual presentation," the doctors reported.

In the most common cases of battery ingestion among kids, the batteries can sometimes pass through a child's body without causing damage. However, if they get stuck in the throat, they can cause severe and even life-threatening injuries, according to UCSF's Benioff Children's Hospitals.

This is because saliva kick-starts an electric current in the trapped batteries, spurring a chemical reaction that can burn the esophagus and can lead to severe tissue damage and bleeding.

"The potential of cylindrical batteries to result in acute surgical emergencies should not be underestimated," the case report states.

In the woman's case, an X-ray revealed that the batteries in her abdomen did not appear to be obstructing her gastrointestinal (GI) tract and no batteries showed signs of structural damage.

She had also passed five AA batteries shortly after admission, bringing the total number ingested in an apparent act of deliberate self-harm to 55 – which the doctors believe to be a record.

An X-ray performed following the patient’s presentation at the hospital’s emergency department showed “multiple batteries” located throughout her abdomen, according to the case report published in this month’s Irish Medical Journal.

However, there was no sign of obstruction, perforation or damage to the structural integrity of the batteries, so a course of conservative management was pursued and the patient passed five batteries over the course of a week.

The other batteries, which included AA and AAA varieties, failed to progress in her digestive system, and she began to complain of abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

A decision was therefore made to perform surgery with a view to removing the objects, during which it was discovered that the patient’s stomach had swollen downward into the suprapublic area.

The surgeons removed a total of 46 batteries from her stomach, while another four that were located in her colon were “milked” into the rectum and removed, the case report said.

The patient made an “uneventful recovery” following the procedure, it added. However, the authors of the report noted that the potential of cylindrical batteries to result in surgical emergencies should not be underestimated.

They said the ingestion of cylindrical batteries was a “rare” method of self-harm that has the potential for several serious complications, including mucosal injury, perforation and obstruction.

Although unusual, the case report noted that the incidence of fatal and severe battery ingestion is increasing.

“Ingestion of larger cylindrical batteries is less frequently encountered, hence no clear practice guidelines have been developed. Potential options for dealing with cylindrical battery ingestion include conservative management, endoscopic extraction, or surgical retrieval,” it stated.

“To the best of our knowledge, this case represents the highest reported number of batteries ingested at a single point in time,” added the report, which was authored by a team of radiologists and colorectal surgeons at St Vincent’s Hospital.

After a week of observation, the doctors performed laparotomy on the woman, in which surgeons made an incision to access her abdominal cavity. They found that the stomach, pulled down by the weight of the batteries, had become distended and stretched into the area above the pubic bone

They then cut a small hole in the stomach and removed the batteries from the organ.

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