A child presents to your Emergency Department with a small button battery up her nose. Your usual tricks fail:

  • Occluding the other nostril and having the mother blow in the patient’s mouth forcefully.
  • Using a small curette or forceps to scoop or pull it out.

Trick of the Trade: Metallic FB removal

Use a Rare Earth Magnet

This YouTube video (apparently, you CAN find anything on YouTube) shows an amazing demonstration of how simple foreign body removal can be. It seems to be much less traumatic than if one were to actually go digging into the cornea for the little metallic bits.

One of the conference attendees our recent High Risk EM Conference in Hawaii came up to tell me of his success in using rare earth magnets for metallic foreign body removals in the nose, ears, and even deep lacerations. I wish I had caught his name to give him credit! Cool tip.

I recently bought some Rare Earth Magnets from eBay for $8. I bought a set of 20 mini-magnets which can be stacked together into a wand. Here is a video showing how strong these little magnets are in picking up random things in my house:

I do not have any financial ties or disclosures with eBay or the sellers of these cool rare-earth magnets.

Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD