Ingested Magnets

Ingestion of Strong Magnets is a TIME CRITICAL EMERGENCY

(Multiple Magnets OR a single Magnet and Metallic Objects)

Strong magnets  (such as Neodymium)

  • Now common place around the house
  • From; fridge magnets to toys and peicings


  • Intestinal injury can occur within 8-24 hours
  • However, symptoms may take weeks to develop
  • Symptomatic patients are a SURGICAL emergency


  • Use X-Ray (NOT metal detectors)
  • May require AP and lateral images to see how many

RCEM recommendation (best practice)

  1. Consider magnet ingestion in unwell children with gastrointestinal symptoms.
  2. Do not use metal detectors for the assessment of children with suspected rare earth magnet ingestion.

3. All symptomatic rare earth magnet ingestion should be discussed with a specialist regional paediatric surgical centre in the first instance. (i.e. Leeds Paediatric Surgical Team)

4. The progression of the magnet/magnets through the gastrointestinal tract is crucial to determining whether surgical intervention is required.

5. Repeat abdominal X-rays should be performed after 6-12 hours in those children who are asymptomatic and meet the discharge criteria. (i.e. PAU)

    • Single magnet ingestion (avoid clothes with metallic buttons or belts with buckle)
    • Accidental ingestion
    • No co-morbidities
    • Tolerating oral intake
    • Presents within 24hr of ingestion
    • Care-giver able to provide close observation
    • There is no need to examine the child’s faeces

If discharged and returning to PAU:

  1. Discuss with Paediatric Team – to handover and arrange time of return
  2. Order X-Ray  – so patient can go to PAU via Xray to reduce patient delays


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