Archives of oto-rhino-laryngology

, Volume 243, Issue 4, pp 260–264 | Cite as

Generalized argyrosis in man: neurotological, ultrastructural and X-ray microanalytical findings

  • M. Westhofen
  • H. Schäfer


Generalized argyrosis can produce a number of abnormalities, including skin discoloration, liver and kidney dysfunction. We describe a patient with generalized argyrosis following long-term self-treatment with oral silver intake, in whom skin discoloration, progressive taste and smell disorders, vertigo and hypesthesia were observed. These findings were confirmed by chemosensory tests and electrophysiological investigations. The development of hypogeusia was assessed by subjective tests, while the progression of hyposmia was followed by recording olfactory evoked cortical potentials. Light and electron microscopy of tissue samplings demonstrated electron-dense mineral deposits in basal membranes, in macrophages, in the perineurium of peripheral nerves, along elastic and collagenous fibers, and in necrotic cells of the oral submucosa. Silver and sulfur deposits in affected tissues could be defined by X-ray microanalysis. The quantitative ratio between silver and sulfur in involved tissues was similar to that of an inorganic silver-sulfide (Ag2S) standard. The minute increase in the sulfur content when compared to the inorganic standard suggested a sulfur containing organic matrix of the tissue precipitates. Our findings indicate that the affinity of silver for membrane and neuronal structures and the deposition of silver as an insoluble compound (Ag2S) induce the progression of clinical disease.

Key words

Argyria Chemosensory function Oral Mucosa Ultrastructure X-ray microanalysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Westhofen
    • 1
  • H. Schäfer
    • 2
  1. 1.HNO-KlinikHamburg 20Deutschland
  2. 2.Institut für Pathologie des Universitätskrankenhauses Hamburg-EppendorfHamburg 20Deutschland

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