Nasal foreign body removal using a magnetic device

Cite this article as:
Ana Waddington Tessa Davis. Nasal foreign body removal using a magnetic device, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:

Button battery removal from a nasal cavity using a magnetic telescopic pickup tool

A 4-year-old boy presented to the Emergency Department (a major trauma centre in the UK, with a dedicated paediatric ED and 48000 annual paediatric emergency presentations) with a possible foreign body in his right nostril. Earlier that day, one of the parents had noticed that something might be in the nostril after wiping the child’s nose after a minor nosebleed. The parents were unsure what the foreign body was, or how long it had been there.

The nurse at triage noticed something that looked metallic in the right nostril. Our department had recently purchased a magnetic telescopic pick-up tool online for less than £2 (see image) for this eventuality.

The pickup tool was covered with a latex glove, and while the parent cuddled the child to keep them still, the tool was gently inserted into their right nostril. Within one second a click was felt, and the tool was withdrawn from the nostril. On the end of the magnetic tool was a button battery.

Re-examination showed no further foreign objects and some mild inflammation at the entrance of the right nostril. 

The patient was reviewed by the ENT team who prescribed an anti-bacterial nasal cream and followed up in outpatient clinic two weeks later. At that point the examination was normal.

The idea to purchase a magnetic pickup tool for the department came from Tim Horeczko’s PEM Playbook article and podcast ‘Foreign bodies in the head and neck‘. In it he writes:

Magnetic pick-up tools – used by mechanics, engineers, and do-it-yourselfers – are inexpensive and readily available in various sizes, shapes, and styles such as a telescoping extender.  Look for a small tip diameter (to fit in the ear canal as well as the nose) and a strong “hold” (at least a 3lb hold).

Our tool was 2lbs/0.9kg hold. This was adequate for removal of the button battery.

There is one previous case report of a button battery being removed from the nasal cavity of a three-year-old using a magnet (Alletage et al, 2014). In this case, the team created their own device (the Jacobson extractor) with an earth magnet attached to a 14F nasal trumpet (with a flexible arm) attached to a curette. This method was used after a number of failed attempts with other techniques, including suction removal and a balloon catheter. 

There are two other nasal foreign body case reports where a magnet was used (not a button battery). Douglas et al (2002) reported a one-year-old with a ball bearing in the nostril which was referred to ENT due to unsuccessful ED removal and was then successfully removed using a similar tool to the one used in this case report. And Yeh at al (2012) report a 26-year-old with two magnetic disc earrings (one up each nostril) which required two cardiac pacemaker magnets attached to two forceps. One device was used simultaneously in each nostril to separate the earrings.

There are three case reports where magnets were used to remove metallic objects from the ear. Landry et al (1986) used a magnetized screwdriver to remove a button battery from a nine-year-old’s ear; Nivatvongs et al (2015) used a telescopic magnetic rod to remove a button battery from a nine-year-old’s ear under general anaesthetic after multiple failed alternative techniques were attempted in the Emergency Department, and Din et al (2019) reported the use of a specially-designed angled magnetic probe to remove a metal bolt from a ten-year-old’s ear canal.

Our case report is the first where a simple magnetic telescopic pickup tool was used to remove a button battery from the nose as the first attempt resulting in successful and swift removal. 

Note: full consent has been obtained from the child’s family for publication

To learn more about foreign body removal check out Becky Platt’s talk and accompanying post from DFTB Essentials.

Neonatal procedures: Elizabeth Osmond at DFTB19

Cite this article as:
Team DFTB. Neonatal procedures: Elizabeth Osmond at DFTB19, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:

Neonatal procedures can be broken down into two broad categories. There are those that are needed to stabilize the child in front of you (such as vascular access or intubation) and there are those with a more diagnostic intent (such as a lumbar puncture or SPA). Newborns are unpredictable so Beth Osmond asks us to consider those things that we do have control over – yourself, the team and your environment and equipment.



This talk was recorded live at DFTB19 in London, England. With the theme of  “The Journey” we wanted to consider the journeys our patients and their families go on, both metaphorical and literal.

If you want our podcasts delivered straight to your listening device then subscribe to our iTunes feed or check out the RSS feed. If you are more a fan of the visual medium then subscribe to our YouTube channel. Please embrace the spirit of FOAMed and spread the word.

iTunes Button



Cite this article as:
Stephen Gilmartin. Apophysitis, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:

David is a 12-year-old boy who attends the emergency department complaining of bilateral heel pain. His pain has been getting gradually worse over the past month. He is a keen footballer, but his symptoms have gotten to the stage where he is now unable to play through his pain.


Apophysitis is a term used to describe a group of overuse traction injuries which commonly cause pain in adolescents. We have all heard of Osgood Schlatter disease. It is the most common form of apophysitis. Other anatomical areas that are commonly affected include the inferior pole of patella (Sinding-Larsen-Johansson), calcaneal tuberosity (Sever’s), medial epicondyle of the elbow (within spectrum of Little League elbow) and various sites on the pelvis. They’re subtly different from osteochondrosis, which is instead due to changes in the epiphyseal ossification centre.

An apophysis is an area of bony growth separate to the ossification centres. It acts as a site of tendon or ligament attachment and will eventually fuse with the bone as the body matures. Rapid growth and relative bone weakness combined with repetitive movements cause increased traction forces at the point of attachment. The apophysis is the weakest point in the muscle-tendon-bone junction; repeated strain at this point leads to bone fragmentation and micro-separation. This abnormal growth leads to swelling and pain at the site. Similar overuse injuries result in tendon and muscle injuries in adults.

Apophysitis is most common during ages of peak growth i.e. between 10-14 years in girls and 12-16 years in boys. Apophysitis is traditionally more common in boys, but the incidence is growing in girls. This is likely linked to increasing sports participation rates among girls of this age. The mean age of onset is younger in girls due to the earlier appearance of the ossification centres. Earlier fusion leads to the cessation of symptoms at a younger age in girls when compared to boys. In lower limb apophysitis, up to 50% of patients will experience bilateral symptoms.


Let’s take a look at some x-rays

This 11-year-old male basketball player has been complaining of heel pain. His ankle x-ray shows increased density of the calcaneal apophysis, typically seen in children between 7 and 14 years with Sever’s Disease. There is loss of fat/soft tissue planes in the region of the retrocalcaneal bursa in keeping with acute inflammation.

Case courtesy of Dr Dinesh Brand, From the case rID: 60324


This 12-year-old female long-distance runner complains of anterior knee pain, localised to the inferior aspect of her patella. Her lateral knee x-ray shows dystrophic ossification of the inferior patella with subtle thickening of proximal patellar tendon. These changes are consistent with a diagnosis of Sinding-Larsen-Johansson.

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson. Case courtesy of Dr Michael Sargent, From the case rID: 6323


This 13-year-old female volleyball player presents with progressive pain over her tibial tuberosity. Her pain is exacerbated by jumping. Her lateral knee x-ray shows fragmentation of apophysis with overlying soft tissue swelling, classic for Osgood Schlatter Disease. Some isolated fragmentation can be normal at the tibial tuberosity.

Osgood Schlatter’s Disease. Case courtesy of Dr Hani Salam, From the case rID: 9740


This 11-year-old boy presents to the ED with worsening elbow pain. He is an avid cricket player and is trying to make his county underage team but finds his pain much worse while bowling. His AP elbow x-ray shows widening of the physis at the medial epicondyle. This is consistent with a diagnosis of Little League Elbow. You may also see fragmentation.

Little League Elbow from Orthobullets


This is an MRI of a 14-year-old male long-distance runner complaining of anterior hip pain. His pain is becoming increasingly worse on running and is now affecting his times. MRI shows bone marrow and surrounding soft tissue oedema at the anterior superior iliac spine involving the sartorius muscle origin without separation as may occur in an acute avulsion injury. This is consistent with ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) apophysitis. Plain radiographs are usually normal or may only show subtle changes of pelvic apophysitis.

ASIS apophysitis. Case courtesy of Dr Chris O’Donnell, From the case rID: 31877


History and exam

Apophysitis has a typical history and the diagnosis is largely based on an accurate history and exam. An adolescent will present with gradual onset focal pain over the involved site. They are typically highly active and may be going through an acute increase in there training levels. They may be currently progressing to higher levels of sport or competing in multiple sports at multiple grades. The initial symptom will be pain present at the start of physical activity. In the early stages the pain will often subside once the child has fully warmed up, only to return once they have cooled down. As the process progresses the child will have persisting symptoms throughout physical activity and the pain will eventually result in total cessation of activity.

Clinical examination will reveal point tenderness over the affected site. There may be mild swelling over the area. Pain will be reproduced by resisted contraction of the affected muscle, e.g. resisted plantar flexion of the ankle in Sever’s disease and resisted knee extension in Osgood-Schlatter’s. A good way to assess this is to ask the patient to demonstrate actions which exacerbate their pain.


Differential diagnosis

Alternative diagnoses and investigations should be considered if there are any concerning features on history or exam. Atypical features on presentation are:

  • Sudden onset pain
  • Pyrexia
  • Non-weightbearing
  • History of trauma
  • Point of tenderness or age of patient not typical for apophysitis.

The most common differential diagnoses are osteomyelitis, avulsion fractures, osteochondritis, stress fractures and malignancy. Investigations should be performed in accordance with suspected differential diagnosis.

The below cases and accompanying images highlight the need for you have possible alternative diagnoses in the back of your mind. The patient should be presenting with gradual onset pain, over an apophysis site, at the appropriate age (10-16) for apophysitis. A history which includes high levels or sudden increase in activity can be helpful. Any atypical features should be actively sought out.


This elbow x-ray is from a 13-year-old male baseball pitcher attending with sudden onset medial elbow pain. The medial epicondyle is displaced with a sliver adjacent bone, representing a medial epicondyle avulsion fracture. There is marked adjacent soft tissue swelling and joint effusion. Compare this to the Little League elbow x-ray.

Medial epicondyl avulsion fracture. Case courtesy of Dr Henry Knipe, From the case rID: 41533


A 10-year-old female basketball player attended with sudden onset knee pain following a fall. The x-ray shows a bone fragment avulsed from inferior patella at point of tendon insertion with moderate overlying soft tissue swelling: a patella sleeve fracture. This contrasts with the findings of dystrophic ossification of Sinding-Larsen-Johansson.

Patella sleeve fracture. Case courtesy of Dr Yuan Ling, From the case rID: 69680


A 13-year-old female long jumper attends with anterior knee pain following a fall resulting in forced flexion of their flexed knee. She has significant pain and is unable to straight leg raise. Her x-ray shows displacement of tibial tuberosity with significant overlying soft tissue swelling: an avulsion fracture of the tibial tuberosity. Compare this to the typical radiographic features of fragmentation and mild swelling observed in Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture. Case courtesy of From the case rID: 12022


A 13-year-old girl presents with worsening ankle/heel pain over the last week. Her pain is exacerbated on while running and playing football. She has been pyrexic over the past 24 hours and is now unable to weight bear. The x-ray of her ankle shows diffuse soft tissue swelling abutting the distal end of her fibula. There is suspicious erosion of distal fibular cortex. These findings are suspicious for osteomyelitis of the distal fibula.

Osteomyelitis of the distal fibula. Case courtesy of Dr Maulik S Patel, From the case rID: 10046


An 8-year-old boy attends with gradual onset knee pain while running. He begins to notice some associated swelling. His mother feels he is becoming increasingly lethargic. Lateral x-ray shows sclerotic lesion involving the dia-metaphyseal region of the tibia with a wide zone of transition and characteristic “Sunburst ” type of periosteal reaction seen in osteosarcomas.

Osteosarcoma of the tibia. Case courtesy of Dr Iqbal Naseem, From the case rID: 22814



Despite the diagnosis being clinical, a baseline x-ray is often useful. An x-ray can help ensure there is no avulsion fracture and a study by Rachel et al found x-rays changed management in up to 5% of patients with Sever’s disease.

Findings of apophysitis can vary on imaging and some patients may not show any radiological changes on plain films. The typical x-ray findings include increased density and fragmentation at secondary ossification centres. Overlying soft tissue swelling can often be seen. MRI will reveal increased fluid signal, apophyseal oedema and fragmentation.

This lateral plain film view shows the calcaneal apophysis with high density and fragmentation consistent with Sever’s disease.

Sever’s on x-ray. Case courtesy of Dr Fateme Hosseinabadi , From the case rID: 69971

Compare the x-ray to this MRI image showing oedema and fragmentation at the calcaneal apophysis and extending into the adjacent calcaneal tuberosity. These findings are commonly seen in patients with Sever’s disease.

Sever’s on MRI. Case courtesy of Dr Paulo A Noronha, From the case rID: 63302



Apophysitis is a self-limiting process. Most patients will return to full activity following 4-6 weeks of rest or reduced activity. Despite successful return to activity, patients may continue to experience some symptoms. The symptoms will cease definitively once growth centres fuse.

The focus of treatment should be to reduce symptoms sufficiently to allow continued sports participation.

Strategies shown to improve recovery are

  • analgesia
  • activity modification
  • muscle stretching and strengthening programmes

Other therapies which have little evidence but may be helpful in some cases include

  • ice application
  • foot orthotics or heel raises in Sever’s disease
  • taping or bracing

There is no place for surgery in the standard treatment of apophysitis. Any short-term benefit observed from surgery cannot be justified when weighed against the potential damage to an immature skeleton. Surgery may be considered an option if there is a displaced avulsion fracture or a loose body in an affected joint.



Apophysitis is a largely preventable process and as a result recent focus has been placed on both primary and secondary prevention programmes. It can be difficult at an individual level to make changes as these patients tend to be highly active and competitive people. This has seen some youth sport bodies enforcing limits on game participation and mandatory rest to avoid repetitive strain.

Simple advice to give parents and children include:

  1. Encourage 1-2 days off from competitive sport per week
  2. Encourage 2-3 months off from each sport per year
  3. Participate on only one team per sport
  4. Avoid early sport specialisation
  5. Avoid increasing levels of training by more than 10% from one week to the next
  6. Maintain good sleep, hydration and dietary habits.


Take home tips

  • Apophysitis has a typical history of gradual onset pain over an apophysis in highly active adolescents.
  • It is a self-limiting process but can cause debilitating pain.
  • Treatment should focus on analgesia, activity modification and muscle stretching programmes.
  • Symptoms will resolve definitively once ossification centres fuse.


Not to miss bits

  • Any atypical features should be investigated appropriately. The area around the apophysis is a common site for avulsion fractures, osteomyelitis and malignancy.
  • These patients are high risk for other overuse injuries. All patients should be given secondary prevention advice.


And our favourites, the controversies

  • Despite the diagnosis being clinical, baseline x-rays can be useful to out-rule other differential diagnoses.
  • There is little evidence displaying additional benefit for treatment with taping or splints.
  • Custom orthotics can be useful for patients suffering from Sever’s Disease.


David undertook a month long physio led programme of activity modification and muscle stretching. He was given secondary prevention advice to avoid overtraining. He is now back to symptom free football participation.  



Brenner, J. S. (2007). Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes. Pediatrics, 119(6), 1242 LP – 1245

Elengard, T., Karlsson, J., & Silbernagel, K. G. (2010). Aspects of treatment for posterior heel pain in young athletes. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, 1, 223–232.

Fleisig, G. S., Andrews, J. R., Cutter, G. R., Weber, A., Loftice, J., McMichael, C., Hassell, N., & Lyman, S. (2011). Risk of serious injury for young baseball pitchers: a 10-year prospective study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(2), 253–257.

Frush, T. J., & Lindenfeld, T. N. (2009). Peri-epiphyseal and Overuse Injuries in Adolescent Athletes. Sports Health, 1(3), 201–211.

Gregory, B., & Nyland, J. (2013). Medial elbow injury in young throwing athletes. Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, 3(2), 91–100.

Guldhammer, C., Rathleff, M. S., Jensen, H. P., & Holden, S. (2019). Long-term Prognosis and Impact of Osgood-Schlatter Disease 4 Years After Diagnosis: A Retrospective Study. In Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine (Vol. 7, Issue 10, p. 2325967119878136).

James, A. M., Williams, C. M., & Haines, T. P. (2013). “Effectiveness of interventions in reducing pain and maintaining physical activity in children and adolescents with calcaneal apophysitis (Sever’s disease): a systematic review.” Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 6(1), 16.

Rachel, J. N., Williams, J. B., Sawyer, J. R., Warner, W. C., & Kelly, D. M. (2011). Is Radiographic Evaluation Necessary in Children With a Clinical Diagnosis of Calcaneal Apophysitis (Sever Disease)? Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, 31(5).

Ramponi, D. R., & Baker, C. (2019). Sever’s Disease (Calcaneal Apophysitis). Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, 41(1), 10–14.

Vaishya, R., Azizi, A. T., Agarwal, A. K., & Vijay, V. (2016). Apophysitis of the Tibial Tuberosity (Osgood-Schlatter Disease): A Review. Cureus, 8(9), e780–e780.

Wiegerinck, J. I., Zwiers, R., Sierevelt, I. N., van Weert, H. C. P. M., van Dijk, C. N., & Struijs, P. A. A. (2016). Treatment of Calcaneal Apophysitis: Wait and See Versus Orthotic Device Versus Physical Therapy: A Pragmatic Therapeutic Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, 36(2).

Cairns G, Owen T, Kluzek S, et al. Therapeutic interventions in children and adolescents with patellar tendon related pain: a systematic review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2018

Cairns, G., Owen, T., Kluzek, S., Thurley, N., Holden, S., Rathleff, M. S., & Dean, B. J. F. (2018). Therapeutic interventions in children and adolescents with patellar tendon related pain: a systematic review. BMJ Open Sport &Amp; Exercise Medicine, 4(1), e000383.


The 41st Bubble Wrap

Cite this article as:
DFTB, T. The 41st Bubble Wrap, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:

With millions upon millions of journal articles being published every year it is impossible to keep up.  Every month we ask some of our friends from PERUKI (Paediatric Emergency Research in UK and Ireland) to point out something that has caught their eye.

Paediatric dermatology

Cite this article as:
Andrew Tagg. Paediatric dermatology, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:

Whether it is the primary complaint or a symptom of the underlying disease many children present to health care practitioners with skin conditions.

The Skin Deep Project is a collection of photographs and descriptions of paediatric skin lesions led by Don’t Forget The Bubbles and the Royal London Hospital with contributors from all over the world. The project focuses on providing high quality, accessible images which improve the diversity available in paediatric skin images found online. This will improve identification and patient care.

But first in order to help identify skin lesions it is helpful to know the right terms to use. So let’s start there…

Basic skin anatomy

The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis. the dermis and a layer of subcutaneous fat. The epidermis is made of many layers of epithelial cells. Near the bottom of the epidermis are melanocytes. These are a special type of cell that produces melanin, a dark pigment responsible for giving skin it’s colour. The dermis is made up of connective tissue and contains hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, branches of blood vessels, and nerve endings. The subcutaneous fat layer below the dermis helps to give our bodies protection, regulate temperature, and anchor the dermis to structures below such as muscle or bone. It also contains blood vessels.

Skin forms a protective barrier for the body but also has multiple other functions including immunological protection, temperature regulation, synthesis of vitamin D, sensation, secretion, and excretion.

Whilst history is very important, paediatric dermatology is often truly down to the spot diagnosis. It would be great if we could just send pictures straight to the electronic medical record but this is not always possible.

Distribution pattern

Some rashes are easily diagnosed by their location – why do you think it is called Hand, Foot and Mouth? These are LOCALIZED rashes. Are they in a DERMATOMAL distribution, like in shingles or in a sun-exposed area. PHOTOSENSITIVE ares. Others are harder to place and are more GENERALIZED in their location.
The skin changes associated with eczema are more commonly seen on FLEXURAL surfaces (i.e. the creases) whereas the plaques of psoriasis are more likely to be found on EXTENSOR surfaces.


Having figured out the distribution of the lesion it is then time to figure out the configuration. This is the pattern or shape.

Are the lesions DISCRETE (separate) or CONFLUENT (joined together)? Are they LINEAR or not? Are the TARGET lesions, ANNULAR, or DISCOID?

Primary skin lesions

Skin lesions can be primary or secondary. Primary lesions arise directly from a disease process/cause. Secondary lesions progress from a primary lesion or due to transformation from interacting with the environment (eg. heat, chemicals) or a patient’s actions (eg. picking, rubbing) .

Primary skin lesions include:

CRUST: The skin is covered in a layer of dried matter – usually serum, blood, pus, or a combination of these.

CYST: A closed cavity, filled with semi-solid or liquid material such as fluid or blood. It can be lined with epithelium or endothelium. A Cyst which is filled with pus is a PUSTULE.

MACULE: A small, flat, non-palpable skin lesion that is less than 1 cm diametre in size. Note that this type of lesion which is >1cm is usually referred to as a PATCH.

PUSTULE: A pus filled elevated skin lesion, often with surrounding erythema.

ULCER: A defect in the skin or mucous membranes (loss of epidermis +/- deeper layers. They are deep and often leave a scar when they heal

VESICLE: A well rounded, raised, fluid filled lesion which is <1cm in dimaetre (a BULLA is >1cm in size)

WHEAL/HIVE: A pink, oedematous papule from swelling in the dermis that can vary in size and shape. They are usually erythematous but can have a paler centre.

The only way to be better is to practice so dive into our gallery.

Going the extra millimetre in neonatal care: Hazel Talbot at DFTB19

Cite this article as:
Team DFTB. Going the extra millimetre in neonatal care: Hazel Talbot at DFTB19, Don't Forget the Bubbles, 2020. Available at:

Hazel Talbot graduated from one of the countries leading medical schools just one year after Andrew Tagg. Whilst he has fled the NHS for warmer climes she has remained in the UK and works as a neonatologist for Embrace, the Yorkshire and Humber Infant and Children’s Transport service, part of Sheffield Children’s Hospital. She is also an Honorary Consultant at Leeds Children’s Hospital where she is allowed to indulge her desire to look after kids in a slightly less restrictive space than in the back of an ambulance.



This talk was recorded live at DFTB19 in London, England. With the theme of  “The Journey” we wanted to consider the journeys our patients and their families go on, both metaphorical and literal. DFTB20 will be held in Brisbane, Australia.

If you want our podcasts delivered straight to your listening device then subscribe to our iTunes feed or check out the RSS feed. If you are more a fan of the visual medium then subscribe to our YouTube channel. Please embrace the spirit of FOAMed and spread the word.

iTunes Button