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February 1983

Radiological Case of the Month

Am J Dis Child. 1983;137(2):175-176. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1983.02140280067019

A 13-month-old female infant was transferred to Landskrona (Sweden) Hospital, from an outlying Swedish clinic. Her parents had observed some gray-white, confetti-sized pellets passed in the infant's stools. She had been healthy and without signs of abdominal discomfort.

Routine examination at admission showed that the infant was in good general condition. She had no external wounds. Examination of her stool disclosed no foreign bodies. An abdominal roentgenogram was obtained (Figure).

Denouement and Discussion 

Ingestion of Mercury (Quicksilver): Unknown Source but Without Risk 

Abdominal roentgenogram showing many radiodense particles apparently within intestines.  Another examination of the infant's stool after the roentgenogram demonstrated the presence of metallic mercury (quicksilver). Her mother was questioned about objects that contained metallic mercury at home. No broken thermometer was found, nor had the infant any toys that contained metallic mercury. The mother was suspicious of a can of orange juice, but the container had been disposed, so that