Rupture of the mercury-filled bag of an intestinal tube resulted in aspiration of metallic mercury 22 years ago in the patient reported. Immediate respiratory distress was treated with vigorous suctioning and postural drainage. Follow-up chest roentgenograms persistently showed radiopaque particles in the lungs. Signs and symptoms of chronic respiratory disease have since developed in the patient. Postmortem findings from the lungs included globules of metallic mercury surrounded by extensive fibrosis and granuloma formation, which we believe to be the result of local irritative effects of mercury.
(JAMA 238:1531-1532, 1977)