Intravenous mercury injection and ingestion: clinical manifestations and management.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Mercury is a complex toxin with clinical manifestations determined by the chemical form, route, dose, and acuity of the exposure. Parenteral injection of elemental mercury remains uncommon. CASE REPORT A 40-year-old male injected 3 mL of elemental mercury intravenously and ingested 3 mL as a suicide attempt. Within 24 hours, he became dyspneic, febrile, tachycardic, and voiced mild gastrointestinal complaints. Chest X-ray revealed scattered pulmonary infiltrates and embolized mercury bilaterally. A ventilation/perfusion scan demonstrated ventilation/ perfusion deficits. Additionally, his renal function declined, as manifest by minor elevations in blood urea nitrogen and creatinine and decreased urine output. Pulmonary therapy, intravenous hydration, and chelation using 2,3-dimercaptoscuccinic acid (DMSA/Succimer) were started. Over the next 36 hours, the patient's pulmonary and renal functions improved. Temperature and heart rate subsequently normalized, and symptoms at discharge were mild exertional dyspnea. DISCUSSION Liquid mercury injected intravenously embolizes to the pulmonary vasculature and perhaps vessels in other organs such as heart and kidney. In-situ oxidation to inorganic mercury, which is directly toxic to a variety of tissues, may help explain the multisystem involvement. CONCLUSION Significant pulmonary dysfunction accompanied by radiographically demonstrated mercury emboli and temporary abnormalities in several organs improved shortly after initiation of chelation. The impact of chelation on long-term outcome of parenteral mercury exposure remains uncharacterized.

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@article{McFee2001IntravenousMI, title={Intravenous mercury injection and ingestion: clinical manifestations and management.}, author={Robin B McFee and Thomas R Caraccio}, journal={Journal of toxicology. Clinical toxicology}, year={2001}, volume={39 7}, pages={733-8} }