Post-mortem findings and clinical signs of dimethyl mercury poisoning in man
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A lethal dimethyl mercury poisoning was described in a 28-year-old chemist who had prepared 6000 g of this compound in the laboratory. Numbness and tingling of the lips, hands, and feet developed, as well as ataxia, disturbance of speech, concentric constriction of the visual fields, and signs of upper motor neurone lesion. There was no damage to peripheral nerves either in clinical or EMG examination. The spontaneous daily Hg excretion in urine was 124 to 142 Μg Hg/day. The amount of eliminated mercury was not changed by administration of dimercaptopropanole nor by peritoneal dialysis. Penicillamine, administered at 750 mg/day, increased excretion to 535 Μg Hg/day, but with no noticeable clinical effect. Total mercury levels (in Μg Hg/g wet weight) were found in various organs as fallows: brain 13.2 to 14.2, kidney 25.6, liver 26.8, spleen 5.4, and muscle 4.67. On post-mortem examination, symmetrical lesions in the cerebral cortex were found, particulary in the calcarine area. In the cerebellar cortex there was primarily a loss of Purkinje cells. The brain stem and anterior horns of the spinal cord also showed a moderate degree of damage.
Key wordsDimethyl mercury Poisoning Brain damage
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