The Indian Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 85, Issue 8, pp 618–624 | Cite as

Handheld Metal Detector for Metallic Foreign Body Ingestion in Pediatric Emergency

  • Hazwani Binte Hamzah
  • Vigil JamesEmail author
  • Suraj Manickam
  • Sashikumar Ganapathy
Original Article



Foreign body ingestion is a common problem for which children present to the emergency department. The most common ingested foreign bodies among children are coins. Metal detector is an equipment, which measures a change in inductance of a coil when an electroconductive material is placed near it and produces an audio-visual signal. The present study was conducted to determine the effectiveness and feasibility of HMD in the local Pediatric population.


This was a prospective study conducted in the pediatric emergency department among children presenting with history of foreign body ingestion. The outcome measured was presence or absence of metallic foreign body detected on handheld metal detector examination.


During the study period, 36 patients with history of foreign body ingestion presented to the emergency department. Among these, 28 were metallic foreign body ingestions. Coins were the most common type of foreign body ingested. Among the metallic foreign bodies ingested, all the coins were accurately identified by the handheld metal detector. Non-coin metallic foreign bodies like metallic screw, needle and stapler pin were not identified by the handheld metal detector.


The study demonstrates that handheld metal detector can be safely and reliably used as a screening tool in the process of detecting ingested coins. The plain radiograph still appears to be superior as it accurately localizes sharp metallic objects as well as cell batteries (button batteries) which need to be detected early and removed in order to prevent complications. Handheld metal detector is an effective tool that can be used in the follow up of patients to confirm whether the coin like metallic foreign body has been expelled. Handheld metal detector examination is more sensitive than traditional X-ray examination to detect radiolucent metallic foreign bodies like aluminium.


Handheld metal detector Metallic foreign body Children Emergency department 



HBH was involved in literature review, manuscript preparation and conception of study. VJ was involved in manuscript preparation, conception of report and manuscript review. SM was involved in manuscript preparation, conception of report and manuscript review. SG was involved in conception of report, manuscript review, manuscript submission and will act as guarantor for this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Name of the Ethics Board

[1] Central Institutional Review Board, SingHealth.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the parents for publication of this study and accompanying images.

Conflict of Interest


Source of Funding



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Copyright information

© Dr. K C Chaudhuri Foundation 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyK K Women’s and Children’s HospitalSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Children’s EmergencyK K Women’s and Children’s HospitalSingaporeSingapore

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