The clinical analysis of mercury poisoning in 92 cases

peripheral_neuropathyZhonghua Nei Ke Za Zhi. 2011 Aug;50(8):687-9.

The clinical analysis of mercury poisoning in 92 cases

Liu XL, Wang HB, Sun CW, Xiong XS, Chen Z, Li ZS, Han B, Yang G.

Source: Department of Nephrology, Affiliated Hospital of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Poison Control Center of PLA, Beijing 100071, China.



To summarize the clinical features of mercury poisoning diagnosed by blood and urine tests for improving the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.


Poisoning causes, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis were retrospectively reviewed in 92 in-patients with mercury poisoning in our hospital from January 2000 to April 2010.


Of the 92 patients, 37 were male and 55 were female with an average age of 33.1 (2 – 65) years old. The mercury poisoning was caused by occupational exposure and non-occupational exposure, such as iatrogenic exposure, life exposure and wrong intake or suicidal intake of mercury-containing substances, mainly through respiratory tract, digestive tract and skin absorption.

The most common clinical symptoms were as the followings:

  • nervous system symptom, such as memory loss in 50 cases (54.3%),
  • fatigue in 34 (37.0%),
  • numb limb in 25 (27.2%),
  • dizziness and headache in 22 (23.9%),
  • cacesthesia in 20 (21.7%),
  • fine tremor (finger tip, tongue tip, eyelids) in 15 (16.3%),
  • insomnia and more dreams in 12 (13.0%);
  • gastrointestinal symptoms: nausea in 16 (17.4%),
  • abdominal pain in 14 (15.2%),
  • stomatitis in 5 (5.4%);
  • joint and muscle symptoms: muscle pain in 16 (17.4%),
  • joint pain in 5 (5.4%);
  • cardiovascular system: chest tightness, heart palpitations in 6 (6.5%);
  • urinary system: edema in 9 (9.8%);
  • other system: hidrosis in 20 (21.7%).

After the treatment with sodium dimercaptopropane sulfonate (DMPS), the symptoms were gradually alleviated. Their gastrointestinal, cardiovascular symptoms were alleviated within 2 weeks; neurological symptoms were alleviated within 3 months; kidney damage showed a slower recovery and could be completely alleviated within 6 months.


Because of its diverse clinical symptoms, the mercury poisoning was easy to misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis; therefore the awareness of the disease should be further enhanced. Leaving from the poisoning environment timely and giving appropriate treatment with DMPS will lead to a satisfactory prognosis.

PMID: 22093564

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