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.