Novel Device Developed for Button Battery Detection

Button battery ingestions or aspirations are among the most challenging clinical scenarios for pediatric emergency services due to their life threatening consequences. The difficulty is in making an early validation that an ingested foreign body is a battery. In children, button batteries 20 mm and larger can easily lodge in the esophagus and cause significant damage. Current clinical guidelines for foreign body ingestion call for x-ray imaging to make the diagnosis and to confirm the object’s exact location. However, being able to differentiate between a battery and a coin is sometimes difficult or impossible using x-ray, because an obvious notch, or step off – characteristic of button batteries – cannot always be seen.

To address this unmet need, Bharat Bhushan, PhD (above, right), and Jonathan Ida, MD, FACS (left), have developed a novel device that measures the magnetic field of the ingested material and is able to identify a functional battery. In addition, the ability to detect small magnetic fields allows for the identification of ingested magnets, which also constitute an emergency. Magnets, in pairs or together with some metal objects can “pinch”, damage and penetrate the digestive tract.

Before adjusting clinical practice to handle small children after foreign body ingestion and moving a product to the market several questions must be addressed. Bhushan and Ida seek to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the device prototype, validate the results and submit an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Bhushan and Ida have submitted a provisional patent in conjunction with Lurie Children’s and Northwestern University to protect this work. Bhushan recently submitted an NIH grant to support this work. An accelerator group from Northwestern University has accepted this device as their final project and has presented it to investors, who were receptive to the proposal.​

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