Almost 20 years ago, metallic mercury replaced mineral oil as the anaerobic seal and mixing agent in syringes used for blood sampling. The change was based on the low solubility of gases in mercury and the weight and fluidity of mercury. With these advantages, there is also the potentiality of inadvertent loss of mercury from the syringe into the blood vessel. While the advances of cardiovascular surgery have increased the demand for blood-gas analysis, it is certain that parallel caution with this procedure has not yet been obtained. The purposes of this presentation are to emphasize the hazard of mercury embolization during blood sampling, to suggest that this occurs more often than is realized, and to outline a preventive regimen.
Buxton JT, Hewitt JC, Gadsden RH, Bradham GB. Metallic Mercury Embolism: Report of Cases. JAMA. 1965;193(7):573–575. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090070023006
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