Attempted suicide by intravenous injection of mercury: a rare cause of cardiac granulomas. A case report

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1995 Jun;16(2):172-6. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199506000-00021.


We present the autopsy findings of a case of attempted suicide by self-administration of elemental mercury, resulting in mercury embolization to the heart and lungs. The person lived for 5 months afterward and subsequently died as a result of narcotic toxicity combined with loss of blood from an incised radial artery. A collection of metallic mercury droplets imbedded in a fibrous tissue granuloma was found in the apex of the right ventricular chamber, and metallic densities were seen on radiography of heart and lungs. The levels of mercury in various organs are shown, and the toxicology of elemental mercury is briefly discussed. The literature describing similar cases of metallic mercury emboli is reviewed. Owing to the apparent rarity of the phenomenon, many questions regarding the risk of death following intravenous injection of metallic mercury still remain unanswered.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology*
  • Cardiomyopathies / pathology
  • Embolism / etiology
  • Embolism / pathology
  • Granuloma, Foreign-Body / etiology*
  • Granuloma, Foreign-Body / pathology
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Mercury / adverse effects*
  • Suicide, Attempted*


  • Mercury