1. To be able to discuss the chemistry and phamacokinetics of elemental, inorganic and organic mercury compounds.
2. To be able to discuss the clinical manifestations of exposure to each chemical form of mercury.
3. To be able to discuss the clinical utility of whole blood, spot urinary and 24-hour urinary mercury levels following potential mercury exposure.
4. To be able to discuss the role of chelation in mercury intoxication.
A 74-year-old male with a history of dementia has accidentally ingested some mercury from a bulb thermometer in a nursing home. Some mercury has been spilled on the carpet. Nursing staff estimate that up to one mL may be missing. The patient is asymptomatic.
A 54-year-old male presents to his general practitioner with chest pain, dsypnoea, cough, nausea, chills and headaches. He is an amateur prospector and heated some elemental mercury on a metal skillet in his shed 24-hours prior to presentation.
A 14-year-old female presents to the emergency department after intentionally ingesting 20 mL of 0.5% mercurochrome. Her mouth is red and she complains of a sore throat. Physical examination is otherwise normal.
A General Practitioner calls you from a practice in Far North Queensland. He has a 30-year-old male who two weeks ago was exposed at work to a mercury-containing fungicide used in the sugar cane industry. It contains a high concentration of an alkyl organic mercury compound.
The patient was pouring the undiluted fungicide and accidentally spilled it onto the skin of his arms. The patient sustained a chemical burn to his left forearm. This was immediately decontaminated with water and the burn was subsequently treated as a thermal burn. It is healing well.
The patient has no neurological symptoms and is now asymptomatic. FBC, renal function and LFTs are normal. However, the patient has a whole blood mercury level of 8000 nmol/L (160 mcg/dL).