The optimum management of ingested button batteries was ascertained by postal questionnaire sent to 608 members of the endoscopic and paediatric sections of the British Society of Gastroenterology. Some 312 returns were suitable for analysis: 36.2% of the respondents were not concerned about ingested button batteries and gave no treatment, 6.4% used medical treatment, 48.4% removed them under certain circumstances, and 9% did not know how to manage the problem. Emetics and H2 antagonists or antacids were often used for batteries in the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum and laxatives were commonly prescribed for batteries in the small and large bowel. Of the 48.4% who felt batteries should be removed under certain circumstances, 78%, 72%, and 48% extracted them from the oesophagus, stomach, and duodenum respectively within 24 hours of ingestion. The main reason for operative removal from the small and large bowel was failure of the battery to progress. Current management is therefore variable. Heavy metal poisoning may be occurring more frequently than is suggested in the published reports.
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