Emerg Med J 19:71-73 doi:10.1136/emj.19.1.71
  • Short report

Children and mini-magnets: an almost fatal attraction

  1. S McCormick1,
  2. P Brennan1,
  3. J Yassa1,
  4. R Shawis2
  1. 1Accident and Emergency Department, Sheffield Children's Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Paediatric Surgery, Sheffield Children's Hospital
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S McCormick, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7AU, UK;
  • Accepted 11 June 2001


Children imitating adults often appear to indulge in harmless fun, however at times these activities have more serious implications. The recent fashion of body piercing among adults has encouraged children to have similar procedures or imitate them by applying small magnets to sustain the jewellery used in piercing in position. This paper describes a series of 24 cases presented to the Sheffield Children's Hospital over a period of eight weeks. The children imitated body piercing by using small powerful magnets across parts of their body including nose, ears, penis, and tongue. Some swallowed the magnets while attempting to use them, resulting in one near fatal surgical complication. The paper describes the details of the patients, the procedures used to detect the magnets, and the management of the different complications encountered.


  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.

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