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Intravenous Elemental Mercury Injection: Blood Levels and Excretion of Mercury

JOHN J. AMBRE, M.D., Ph.D.; MICHAEL J. WELSH, M.D.; and CARL W. SVARE, D.D.S., Ph.D.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to John Ambre, M.D., Ph.D.; Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Iowa City, IA 52242.


Iowa City, Iowa


Ann Intern Med. 1977;87(4):451-453. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-87-4-451
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The blood level and excretion of mercury was measured in a patient who injected 1 ml (13.6 g) of elemental mercury intravenously. The chest radiograph showed metallic densities delineating small pulmonary vessels. The patient had no signs or symptoms of mercury intoxication in the year after injection. Mercury blood levels were essentially constant, averaging 62 ng/ml. Although exhalation of mercury vapor was a major route of excretion and urinary mercury rose fivefold with administration of penicillamine, excretion by all routes, estimated for the year after injection, represented only 1% of the dose. Total body clearance of mercury was only 5 ml/min. Penicillamine therefore appeared to be of little value in reducing the body burden of mercury. The data also suggest that acute systemic mercury intoxication is unlikely after intravascular elemental mercury injection because blood mercury levels are low.

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