Clinical Neuroscience

[Thallium poisoning induced polyneuropathy - clinical and electrophysiological data]

LUKÁCS Miklós

DECEMBER 20, 2003

Clinical Neuroscience - 2003;56(11-12)

[Introduction - The aim of the study was the electrophysiological investigation of thallium induced polyneuropathy. Beyond the rarity of the illness, the motivation of this work was the possibility of following up the pattern of neuronal damage. Thallium is one of the most toxic heavy metal and its wide use increases the chance of chronic or accidental acute poisoning. The entero-hepatic circulation makes the accumulation of this toxic agent in tissues possible, mostly in neurons, in the epithelial cells of the digestive tract, in the germinative cells of the skin and testicles. In addition to alopecia and digestive complaints, the clinical picture of thallium poisoning is dominated by neurological signs. Severe axonal polyneuropathy develops in almost all cases, with further damage to the retina and impairment of cognitive functions being not unusual. The diagnosis is confirmed by finding high levels of thallium in body fluids, especially in saliva and urine. Case report - Electrophysiological examination of our accidentally poisoned patient revealed severe, sensory-motor, predominant motor axonal polyneuropathy and pointed out some aspects of the pattern of neurotoxic process: the initially distal lesion, the dying-back course and the capacity for regeneration. Conclusion - Because thallium has the same molecular targets as potassium ion thus impairing the energetical supply of the nerve cell, the most effective treatment is carefully loading with potassium. If recognized and treated early, thallium poisoning has a favourable prognosis.]

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