Mercury poisoning through intravenous administration: Two case reports with literature review

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Abstract

Rationale:

Metallic mercury poisoning through intravenous injection is rare, especially for a homicide attempt. Diagnosis and treatment of the disease are challenging.

Patient concerns:

A 34-year-old male presented with pyrexia, chill, fatigue, body aches, and pain of the dorsal aspect of right foot. Another case is that of a 29-year-old male who committed suicide by injecting himself metallic mercury 15 g intravenously and presented with dizzy, dyspnea, fatigue, sweatiness, and waist soreness.

Diagnosis:

The patient's condition in case 1 was deteriorated after initial treatment. Imaging studies revealed multiple high-density spots throughout the body especially in the lungs. On further questioning, the patient's girlfriend acknowledged that she injected him about 40 g mercury intravenously 11 days ago. The diagnosis was then confirmed with a urinary mercury concentration of 4828 mg/L.

Interventions:

Surgical excision, continuous blood purification, plasma exchange, alveolar lavage, and chelation were performed successively in case 1. Blood irrigation and chelation therapy were performed in case 2.

Outcomes:

The laboratory test results and organ function of the patient in case 1 gradually returned to normal. However, in case 2, the patient's dyspnea was getting worse and he finally died due to toxic encephalopathy and respiratory failure.

Lessons:

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are critical for intravenous mercury poisoning. It should be concerned about the combined use of chelation agents and other treatments, such as surgical excision, hemodialysis and plasma exchange in clinical settings.

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