What is the role of radiographs in the workup of mercury toxicity?

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: David A Olson, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Answer

Obtain a flat plate radiograph of the abdomen to visualize ingested elemental mercury, which appears radiopaque. (See the images below.)

This is a 1-view, abdominal, upright radiograph in This is a 1-view, abdominal, upright radiograph in a male patient who intentionally ingested 8 ounces of elemental mercury. Notice how the mercury outlines the large intestine from ascending to descending. Image courtesy of Fred P. Harchelroad, MD, and Ferdinando L. Mirarchi, DO.
Patient with intentional ingestion of mercury from Patient with intentional ingestion of mercury from blood pressure instrument. Note how mercury beads can be seen deposited in lung fields. Image courtesy of Shuchi Vyas, MD.

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