Intravenous self-administration of elemental mercury: efficacy of dimercaprol therapy

Drug Intell Clin Pharm. 1988 Dec;22(12):972-5. doi: 10.1177/106002808802201208.


Deliberate parenteral self-injection of mercury is extremely rare, and is associated with a high degree of mortality and morbidity. Because mercury depresses cellular enzymatic mechanisms by combining with sulfhydryl groups, soluble mercuric salts are toxic to all cells. Embolization of mercury in the lungs has been reported with varying degrees of changes in pulmonary function. Mercury causes urticaria progressing to weeping dermatitis, leukopenia, anemia, diarrhea, salivation, liver damage, and renal damage progressing to acute renal failure with anuria. Dimercaprol is an effective antidote in acute heavy metal intoxication because its two sulfhydryl groups successfully compete with tissue enzyme sulfhydryl groups for the offending metal. Experience with dimercaprol therapy months after the original exposure to mercury is not available. We describe the hospital course of a patient after intravenous elemental injection and the results of dimercaprol therapy months after the original exposure.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dimercaprol / adverse effects
  • Dimercaprol / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Mercury / administration & dosage
  • Mercury Poisoning / drug therapy*
  • Self Administration
  • Suicide


  • Dimercaprol
  • Mercury