Small Rare Earth Magnets Adhered to Pharyngeal Tissue in a Pediatric Emergency Department Patient

Emily Powers, Emmanuel Ohuabunwa, Parsa P. Salehi, Carl R. Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Small rare earth magnets pose a known health risk to children and many cases of ingestion and aspiration with associated complications have been described. More unusual, but also seen in children, are retained foreign bodies in the oropharynx that require extraction. Case Report: We present the case of a 3-year-old boy with persistent left-sided sore throat 1 h after ingestion of several 3-mm spherical rare earth magnets. No foreign bodies were visible in the oropharynx on examination; however, a chest radiograph revealed two adjacent magnets within the lower pharyngeal space, as well as four magnets linearly clumped within the small intestine. The patient was taken to the operating room, where visual inspection under general anesthesia revealed two magnets adhered to the pharyngoepiglottic folds (one on the laryngeal surface and one on the glottic surface). They were removed in full without issue, preventing aspiration. Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?: Given the recent increase in incidence of rare earth magnet ingestion, emergency providers ought to be aware of the risks and complications associated with magnetic foreign body ingestion in children and the workup and considerations involved in their removal. Providers should also advocate for improved safety controls of these products, which have been found to be effective in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e85-e88
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • foreign body
  • foreign body aspiration
  • pediatric foreign body
  • rare earth magnets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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