February 1990

Radiological Case of the Month

Author Affiliations

Contributed from the Departments of Radiology (Dr Martijn) and Pediatrics (Dr van Loon), University Hospital Groningen, Oostersingel 59, 9714 EZ Groningen, the Netherlands.

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(2):205-206. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150260085034

A 3-year-old girl was brought to the pediatric clinic by her parents, who spoke the language poorly. They said the girl had swallowed something but could not be clear about what the object was. The patient was in good health and the physical examination results were normal. The laboratory findings were normal. Roentgenograms of the digestive tract were obtained. Only the roentgenogram of the abdomen was abnormal (Fig 1).

Denouement and Discussion 

Ingestion of Mercury From a Broken Thermometer  The initial roentgenogram shows multiple, small, rounded, opaque globules of heavy metal in the stomach. Elsewhere, the abdomen was unremarkable. After recognition of the ingested material, mercury, it was clear that the child had broken a thermometer and swallowed a piece of it.Mercury is one ofthe most recognizable ingested foreign substances. It always has a round shape with a diameter of less than 1 mm to 2 or 3 mm.1