For some problems in life there is no easy solution, in the medical field it's no different. sometimes even doctors are forced to think way outside the box to treat their patients.
These bright pink spheres could easily be mistaken for candy, but looking through an x-ray, it's hard to know what you're dealing with.
"This is what the x-ray looked like." Said Dr. Stephen Nanton a Pediatric Gastroenterologist at Avera Mckennan.
Dr. Nanton deals with kids with upset stomachs and swallowing the wrong thing. This stomach however was unlike anything he'd seen before.
"We were thinking is this a necklace, a bracelet, or something like that? It was obvious that we needed to do further tests." Said Dr. Nanton.
Dr. Nanton decided to perform an endoscopy to remove the object from the young girl's stomach. What he found was no bracelet.
"They are called neodymium magnets which are a very powerful magnet, they're about 10 times more powerful than your regular magnet." Said Dr. Nanton.
Most toys would probably pass through, but these magnets took hold and were causing serious harm to the little girl.
"The magnets were so powerful that they were attracting each other through the walls of the stomach and it actually penetrated the wall the stomach and caused what we call fistulas." Said Dr. Nanton.
Given the damage, there was a real potential that the girl would end up needing surgery to remove the magnets and repair her stomach. So Dr. Nanton called in Dr. David Strand to assess the situation.
"When I came in and saw that this child had swallowed these magnets and trying to decide what's our next that you just have to sometimes you just have to rely on your training to try to figure out what the next step would be." Said Dr. Strand, a surgeon with the Surgical Institute of South Dakota.
The endoscope is designed with retrieval tools for nearly anything that finds its way into the gastro-intestinal tract, but apparently not these magnets.
"And they don't work, like this you can't even get around to grab that." Said Dr. Nanton.
Dr. Nanton and Dr. Strand were able to net a few of the magnets, but others had embedded themselves in the stomach wall and wouldn't budge.
"The problem was all the conventional equipment that we had wasn't working with some of those magnets and it just happened to pop into our head when we are using this web basket that maybe we could use the power of the magnet to pull the other ones out." Said Dr. Strand.
After retro-fitting a magnet to the front of the retrieval arm, Dr. Nanton crossed his fingers.
"The first attempt doesn't take it off but the second one we're able to get that first one off!" Said Dr. Nanton.
It's certainly not textbook, but effective.
"I think that we did make a comment, I think we have to MacGyver this!" Joked Dr. Strand.
Minutes later, every magnet was out, every ulcer and fistula closed, and no surgery. The perfect outcome. This little girl very easily could have ended up on the operating table if not for some quick and unconventional thinking. As it turns out, the magnetic force that was initially hurting this child was the same force used to save her.
"That's technology, sometimes you are thrown into the lion's den and you just have to figure out how to get out." Said Dr. Strand.
These powerful magnets have recalled because of the health danger but they can still be found in certain third party products. The doctors also received some national attention and were awarded at a conference in October for their creativity. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.