Management of thallium poisoning in patients with delayed hospital admission

Tong-Wen Sun, Qing-Yan Xu, Xiao-Juan Zhang, Wu Qiong, Zhang-Suo Liu, Quan-Cheng Kan, Cheng-Ye Sun, Lexin Wang

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Objective. To describe the clinical features and management of thallium poisoning in patients with delayed hospital admission. Methods. Fourteen patients (median age 36 years) were admitted 9'19 days after ingesting food poisoned with thallium. Clinical and laboratory data, including blood and urine thallium concentrations, were collected. Patients were treated with oral Prussian blue, a chelating agent sodium dimercaptosulfonate, and hemodialysis. Results. All patients experienced a triad of symptoms of acute gastrointestinal upset, painful combined polyneuropathy, and hair loss after consuming poisoned food. Fatigue and skin pigmentation were observed in all patients. Abnormal liver function tests were found in 6 (42.9%) and delirium and coma were identified in 4 (28.6%). Two weeks after the poisoning, the blood and urine thallium concentration ranged from 219.0 to 1414.4 'g/L (median: 535.3) and 956.5 to 11285.0 'g/L (median: 7460.0), respectively. One patient (7.1%) with a previous history of pulmonary fibrosis died of respiratory failure in hospital. Symptoms were improved and blood or urine thallium levels were normalized in the remaining 13 patients before discharge. After a 6.5 ± 1-month follow-up, 1 patient (7.1%) developed deep venous thrombosis in the left lower limb. In another patient (7.1%), numbness in the lower limbs remained. Conclusion. Acute thallium poisoning is commonly manifested by gastrointestinal upset, painful polyneuropathy, and significant hair loss. Treatment strategies included Prussian blue and hemodialysis, which were associated with a good outcome in this case series.Read More:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-69
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

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    Sun, T-W., Xu, Q-Y., Zhang, X-J., Qiong, W., Liu, Z-S., Kan, Q-C., Sun, C-Y., & Wang, L. (2012). Management of thallium poisoning in patients with delayed hospital admission. Clinical Toxicology, 50(1), 65-69.