A 61-year-old female patient accidentally aspirated liquid mercury during a medically ordered diagnostic procedure. To develop animal-based guidelines, liquid mercury was introduced into the lungs of four dogs. Based on the study of these animals, a method of predicting the kidney inorganic mercury burden was developed using radioactive isotope dilution techniques. It was further demonstrated in dogs that oral administration of dimercaptopropane sulfonate (DMPS) increased mercury excretion and reduced the kidney burden. A rat experiment was performed permitting a statistical evaluation of the assumptions basic to the use of the method. The method was applied to the patient with the result that the kidney inorganic mercury burden was predicted to be 28.1 mg, 8 months after the accident. Treatment with DMPS increased urinary excretion and the post-treatment kidney burden was estimated at 19.6 mm Hg. Inasmuch as the radioactive dose to the subject may be kept at a negligible level and because sensitive methods exist for measurement of radioactive and stable mercury concentrations, the technique may be applicable in special cases to the estimation of kidney inorganic mercury burdens incurred by industrial exposure.
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