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February 8, 1980

Subcutaneous Injection of Metallic Mercury

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Krohn and Wagner), Pediatrics (Dr Solof), and Pathology (Dr Mobini), Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1980;243(6):548-549. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300320040022

METALLIC mercury poisoning is unusual. Oral intake of metallic mercury is usually of no consequence to the patient's health. However, subcutaneous or intravenous injection of mercury poses a definite health hazard. We present a case of intentional self-injection of metallic mercury; systemic mercury absorption was monitored by laboratory determinations of mercury concentrations in serum and urine.

Report of a Case  A 13-year-old boy, who had a history of destructive and attention-getting behavior, drank a tablespoonful of metallic mercury nine days before hospital admission "to see what would happen." There was no apparent reaction, and two days before admission, he injected metallic mercury subcutaneously in six different sites using one of his mother's insulin syringes. He estimated that he had injected 0.1 mL into each site, which became painful.At the time of admission, there were two small, nonfluctuant, tender masses on the left forearm, two on the dorsum of the