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Magnetic resonance imaging findings following button battery ingestion



Lithium button battery ingestions have been increasing in frequency since the early 2000s and can develop severe and sometimes fatal complications from caustic injury even after rapid battery removal. To aid in clinical decision-making, we began obtaining magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/MR angiography in these patients.


Our goal was to review MRI/MR angiography imaging in button battery ingestion cases and compare with other imaging, clinical data and outcomes in these patients.

Materials and methods

In this retrospective institutional-review-board-approved study, we reviewed all button battery ingestion cases with MRI from April 2012 to September 2018. Clinical data, endoscopic findings and all imaging studies were rereviewed. MRIs were evaluated for inflammation, blooming artifact and complications including vascular injury, tracheoesophageal fistula, esophageal perforation and spondylodiscitis, and compared to endoscopy, esophagram and bronchoscopy.


Twenty-three patients with button battery ingestions had a total of 51 MRI/MR angiograms. Seventy percent of the cohort was male with a median age of 2 years (range: 0.94–17 years). Severe complications were found in 48% of patients (11/23), including esophageal perforation (n=11), tracheoesophageal fistula (n=3) and spondylodiscitis (n=1). No patients had vascular injury. Cervical location of the battery was significantly associated with severe complications (10/11 cases). The length of the blooming artifact was greater than 2 cm in those with severe complications and, in most cases, <2 cm in those without severe complications. All complications were seen on initial screening MR exam with serial exams showing decreased inflammation.


MRI/MR angiography can provide valuable information about complications, including esophageal perforation, tracheoesophageal fistula and spondylodiscitis. Decreasing inflammation surrounding the esophagus and vasculature is believed to be clinically reassuring and aids in managing button battery ingestion patients.

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Correspondence to LaDonna J. Malone.

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Grey, N.E.O., Malone, L.J., Miller, A.L. et al. Magnetic resonance imaging findings following button battery ingestion. Pediatr Radiol 51, 1856–1866 (2021).

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  • Button battery
  • Children
  • Esophagus
  • Foreign body
  • Magnetic resonance angiography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Perforation
  • Tracheoesophageal fistula