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Dangerous Gold – Angola Day 16

CEML Hospital is home to a 24-hour emergency department, staffed by talented on-site nurse practitioners with a physician on call. We frequently see those injured in motor vehicle trauma and children suffering from acute infections. Another predictably frequent emergency presentation is children who swallow coins.


Unlike American currency, Angolan coins are brilliantly designed, colorful and inscribed. No wonder children are tempted to put these in their mouth and inevitably swallow one. The dangers are multi-fold: coins can obstruct the airway causing immediate suffocation. They can also become lodged in the esophagus.


This x-ray is from a nine-year-old girl I saw yesterday who swallowed the coin four days ago. No breathing problems, thank goodness, but she has been unable to swallow since the ingestion. The solution? General anesthesia, visualization with an endoscope, and retrieval with forceps. And as for prevention, please tell the mint that perhaps boring, unadorned coins are nevertheless more ideal for children.

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