Shocking: As Many As 21 Magnets Were Found In Boy's Stomach and Intestines


A recent incident in the United States shocked the media, where as many as 21 magnets were found in the stomach and gut of a young boy. This case was published as a formal case report in BMJ Case Reports, titled "Clinical course and management of an unknown multiple-magnet ingestion in a teenage male."

The case began with a teenage boy experiencing severe abdominal cramping, a symptom serious enough to warrant an emergency hospital visit. What doctors discovered through scans was startling: numerous metallic objects lodged within his stomach and intestines.

Advanced CT scans and X-rays revealed the presence of metallic items, but it took several endoscopic examinations to uncover their true identity. Within an ulcer in the stomach wall, doctors found a stack of three gray discs, each about 8 millimeters in diameter. These were identified as neodymium magnets, which had been lodged long enough to start causing significant damage.

The initial removal process, involving forceps and a surgical net, seemed straightforward. But this was only the beginning.

Over the next two days, more magnets were discovered migrating through the large intestine, showing signs of necrosis. While three were removed via colonoscopy, the remaining 15 required surgical intervention. Several magnets had clamped together within the large and small intestines, creating the potential for life-threatening perforations.

The dangers of a perforated bowel are well-documented, often leading to severe complications if intestinal contents leak into the abdomen. Fortunately, the timely surgical intervention, along with antibiotic treatment, prevented such a dire outcome. After a six-day hospital recovery, the teenager resumed normal eating and drinking habits with significantly reduced pain.

Despite the successful treatment, the question of how the magnets ended up in the teenager's body remained.

As the deliberate ingestion of magnets is often due to underlying psychiatric issues, medical professionals evaluated the teenager. Both the teenager and his family insisted it was an accidental incident, likely occurring during a sleepwalking episode.

This case is a stark reminder that the ingestion of foreign objects, even while asleep, is a phenomenon that should not be underestimated. Studies suggest that as many as 1 in 20 people may eat or ingest items while partially or fully asleep, a condition that could lead to dangerous consequences.

The frequency of magnet ingestion, particularly among young children, has been so concerning that emergency care professionals in the United States have repeatedly warned parents to keep such items out of reach.

A 2022 study examined records from 25 children's hospitals across the U.S. from 2017 to 2019, and found 594 instances of magnet-related injuries in those under 21 years old. These injuries were not limited to ingestion but also included magnets being lodged in ears and noses.

This latest case serves as a harrowing example that even adolescents are not immune to such hazards, and the importance of keeping strong magnets away from children and teenagers alike cannot be overstated.

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