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June 9, 1951

MERCURY LOST IN THE GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT: REPORT OF AN UNUSUAL CASE

Author Affiliations

Detroit

From Grace Hospital

JAMA. 1951;146(6):560-561. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.63670060001008
Abstract

Since the trend toward mercury-bearing intestinal decompression tubes developed, the innocuousness of the liquid metallic mercury in the gastrointestinal tract again has been observed.1 A review of the literature upon the subject of bowel obstruction and the role of mercury in its treatment reveals numerous articles beginning with 1676 and appearing until approximately 1850. In these articles many case reports were found extolling the curative effect of liquid mercury in the treatment of bowel obstruction.2 Judging from the extensive literature that accumulated on this subject during these early years, it would seem that numerous therapeutic properties were ascribed to metallic mercury in overcoming bowel obstruction. These were believed to occur by virtue of the fluidity and weight of this heavy metal, which was supposed literally to force its way through the obstructing process. This form of treatment fell into disrepute about the middle of the 19th century as

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