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December 1973

Barium Sulfide Poisoning: Some Factors Contributing To Survival

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC

From the Georgetown University Division of Medicine, District of Columbia General Hospital, Washington, DC.

Arch Intern Med. 1973;132(6):891-894. doi:10.1001/archinte.1973.03650120091017

Soluble barium salts, when ingested in a toxic quantity, produce a characteristic muscular paralysis that can lead to respiratory paralysis and death. Detailed modern accounts of barium intoxication of such severity report survival in four1-4 of ten hospitalized individuals.1-7 The following report of barium intoxication demonstrates how correction of profound hypokalemia, saline diuresis, and respiratory assistance contributed greatly to the survival of the patient. A review of the literature on the subject of barium ion toxicity is included.

Patient Summary  A 26-year-old black man, with suicidal intent, consumed one can of facial depilatory (Magic Shave) containing 15.8 gm of barium sulfide (12.8 gm of barium ion and 3 gm of sulfide). Ipecac, immediately given, induced an unknown amount of vomiting. He complained of weakness in his right arm, then paralysis of that limb, three hours after the ingestion. He then was taken to the District of Columbia General