Young people are being warned about the dangers of magnetic tongue studs, after an increasing number of reports of serious medical emergencies.
The studs give the wearer the look of a tongue piercing but without a hole but, if swallowed, can trap parts of the intestine and lead to perforation.
Dr Anil Thomas George and Dr Sandeep Motiwale, of Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham have written a letter to medical journal the Lancet, asking doctors to advise parents of the dangers.
"Parents need to be alerted to the potential risk of silent bowel perforation and fistulation from accidental ingestion of magnets in children," said Dr George.
"Accidental ingestion of magnetic foreign bodies, which was once rare, has become more common owing to the increasing availability of toys with magnetic elements.
"A solitary ingested magnet can pass through the gut spontaneously. However, ingestion of multiple magnets or a single magnet along with another metallic part can cause them to stick to each other with forces of up to 1,300G [gauss], compressing the intervening bowel and leading to subsequent fistulation and perforation."
The Doctors wrote their letter after treating two young children in the East Midlands who had been admitted to hospital for surgery to remove magnets that had been swallowed.
While magnetic facial studs can be bought online, schoolchildren are thought to be fashioning their own tongue versions using magnetic earrings and ball bearings from toy puzzles.
If accidently swallowed, the magnets - designed to be worn either side of the tongue - can stick together, trapping parts of the intestine between them and leading to perforation of the bowel.
Posted 11/12/2012 by firstname.lastname@example.org