European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 163, Issue 4–5, pp 257–259 | Cite as

The use of a hand-held metal detector for localisation of ingested metallic foreign bodies - a critical investigation

  • Johannes Schalamon
  • Emir Q. Haxhija
  • Herwig Ainoedhofer
  • Alja Gössler
  • Jürgen Schleef
Original Paper


Ingested metallic foreign bodies (MFBs) are usually diagnosed by taking X-ray films of the neck, chest and/or abdomen. This study evaluates the use of a hand-held metal detector (HHMD) for the diagnosis and localisation of MFBs. In a prospective study, 53 consecutive paediatric patients with history of a swallowed MFB were examined with X-rays and HHMD. In 47 children, the MFB could be verified radiologically. Coins were most frequently swallowed. The HHMD could detect and locate all coins but only 47% of other MFBs. There were no false-positive results. A HHMD is an effective tool for screening the location of suspected ingested coins. This method is easy, inexpensive and free of radiation. Very small MFBs cannot be reliably detected. Conclusion:if an innocuous metallic foreign body is clearly identified with a hand-held metal detector in the stomach or lower gastrointestinal tract of an asymptomatic child, additional radiological confirmation is not required.


Diagnostic techniques Digestive system Foreign bodies 



hand-held metal detector


metallic foreign bodies


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Schalamon
    • 1
  • Emir Q. Haxhija
    • 1
  • Herwig Ainoedhofer
    • 1
  • Alja Gössler
    • 1
  • Jürgen Schleef
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Paediatric SurgeryUniversity of GrazGraz Austria

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