Case report: lead toxicity associated with an extra-articular retained missile 14 years after injury.
Lead toxicity associated with extra-articular retained missiles (EARMs) is an uncommon yet potentially devastating complication of gunshot wounds. While the risk of lead toxicity with intra-articular retained missiles is well-known, EARMs are routinely permitted to remain in tissues indefinitely without surveillance for lead toxicity. We present a 34 year-old man who was found to have symptomatic lead toxicity 14 years after sustaining a gunshot-associated femoral fracture with retention of lead bullet fragments. A fluid-filled cyst containing two large lead bullet fragments was identified intraoperatively. Whole-blood lead concentration decreased after removal of the lead-filled cyst. Cyst formation and concomitant bone fracture are two of the risk factors for lead toxicity in patients with EARMs after gunshot wounds. Recognizing risk factors for EARM-associated elevation in lead levels is important as the adverse effects of increased lead burden may be asymptomatic and difficult to diagnose, yet debilitating and potentially lethal.
Eward, WC; Darcey, D; Dodd, LG; Zura, RD
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