A rock, a stick, even a light blub -- it's not what you would expect to find in your pet's stomach.more>>
NASHVILLE - If you're a parent, you know babies and toddlers put everything in their mouths. It's how they explore the world. Its because of that curiosity that doctors at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital say kids have swallowed just about everything you can think of - including nails, a bracelet and even bullets.
It's hard to watch them all the time. When you have kids, accidents are bound to happen.
Aubrey and Evan Volckmann are typical toddlers, but 1 year old Evan gave his parents a real scare one day.
"So basically he pops it in his mouth. I didn't even really know-he tends to have stuff in there all the time. He finds food, things or what not," says dad Brian.
Evan found a nail on the floor and decided to eat it..
"That's the nail - the culprit - about an inch long, small head," says Brian.
You know you have to scour the floors to look for things your kids will put in their mouths, but not just from up high. You have to get down on their level.
Evan's dad took him to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Evan's X-ray confirmed Brian's fears.
"We see between one and two swallowed foreign bodies a week and often more," says radiologist, Dr. Sharon Stein.
Technologist: 1:24 This is a coin-its already made its way past the stomach and will make its way out...
Doctors say coins are the most common items kids swallow, but Vanderbilt doctors have seen it all, from a toy airplane to small pieces of metal, a battery and even a bracelet.
Dr. Stein showed NewsChannel 5 reporter Amy Watson some of the X-rays that have been taken at Vanderbilt.
"There are two different images - this child had swallowed a very long nail, and those were the two bullets in that child's stomach," she pointed out.
That's right, she said bullets.
Dr. Stein says there is only one rule to follow if your child swallows something:
"Anytime a parent sees that a child has swallowed something that is not food, they should bring the child to get medical attention."
Fortunately, 90 percent of the items kids swallow pass through the digestive system and out without any problems.
"We actually thread this down the scope. It's going to pop out on the other end," says gastroenterologist, Dr. Sari Acra.
Dr. Acra uses an endoscope - a tool with a camera to help the doctor guide it down a patient's throat.
"It can actually grab the coin, then we pull the whole thing out," says Dr. Acra.
Some kids - and even parents don't learn the lesson.
"Probably the weirdest thing we've done is remove the same coin twice from the same patient on the same night because the parents went ahead and gave the coin back to the child," he says.
That leads to Dr. Acra's new policy. Now he keeps everything he retrieves.
There is also a new policy at the Volckmann house.
"It really has changed the way we look at debris on the floor," Brian says.
These parents aren't taking any chances.
"This is one of those lucky instances where he showed me what he had in his mouth before he swallowed it. I can't imagine what was swallowed before then or since then," he says.
Despite the drama, Brian admits he always wanted a boy who was tough as nails. Now he's got it.
Doctors say the two items you should be the most concerned about are button batteries and pennies.
Batteries can burn a hole in the throat or stomach lining within hours, and pennies made after 1982 contain highly corrosive zinc.
Only an x-ray can determine what and where the item is.