Soda can tabs may pose a risk

November 30, 2009 2:46:17 PM PST
Years ago, US manufacturers changed the pull tabs on beverage cans. The stay-tabs are supposed to be safer and less likely for people to swallow. But a new study presented in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America finds the redesigned tabs can still pose a risk.

An Ohio researcher explained how, in 16 years, he found 19 cases of children swallowing the stay-tabs. Only four of the children were younger than 5. Most of the cases were teenagers.

Many doctors and radiologists may not be aware the swallowing situation still occurs and adding to the problem is the stay-tabs are difficult to see on x-rays.

"Stay tabs were only visualized in four of 19 kids who were known to have swallowed them, so x-rays are fairly unreliable. So one of the lessons is just because an x-ray doesn't show anything, doesn't mean a stay tab isn't there," said Dr. Lane Donnelly, Cincinnati Children's Hosp. Medical Center radiologist.

Dr. Donnelly says most of the 19 cases were easily resolved, but sharp metal objects such as the tabs can lead to injury of the gastrointestinal tract, and some cases do require surgery.


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