Fatal poisoning due to intravasation after oral administration of barium sulfate for contrast radiography

Forensic Sci Int. 1999 Dec 6;106(2):109-13. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(99)00154-1.


A fatal poisoning after oral administration of barium sulfate for contrast radiography is reported. Barium sulfate is an insoluble salt and therefore is almost nontoxic. The case described here involves a 61-year-old woman who underwent two CT scans of the digestive tract with oral administration of barium sulfate during a surgical procedure. Within several hours after the first barium swallow examination the patient presented nonspecific neurologic and cardiovascular manifestations that rapidly progressed and led to death a few days later. Laboratory findings demonstrated elevated levels of barium in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid. The most likely mechanism of poisoning was progressive intravasation of barium due to stasis of contrast material related to intestinal obstruction.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Barium Sulfate / analysis
  • Barium Sulfate / poisoning*
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Colonic Diseases / complications
  • Coma / etiology
  • Contrast Media / analysis
  • Contrast Media / poisoning*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Obstruction / complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Shock / etiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Contrast Media
  • Barium Sulfate