Iron poisoning

W. Banner, T. G. Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Iron poisoning continues to be a major toxicologic problem, with major impact on the gastrointestinal and circulatory systems. Failure to recognize the severity of iron intoxication may result in an inappropriate level of intervention. By using estimates of the total body burden of iron, clinical symptoms, and the serum iron concentration, an appropriate decision can be made to initiate aggressive chelation therapy with deferoxamine. In severe intoxication, the use of intravenous deferoxamine is indicated, along with supportive care, with particular attention to maintaining the intravascular volume. Other important measures include correction of acidosis and disorders of coagulation and replacement of blood components when there is evidence of gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Under rare circumstances in which large numbers of iron tablets are present in the gastrointestinal tract, surgical removal may be indicated. In addition, measures such as hemodialysis and exchange transfusion should be reserved for those unusual poisonings in which more conservative therapy is unsuccessful. In rare cases of iron intoxication, late sequelae such as hepatic necrosis and gastrointestinal scarring with obstruction may occur. The prompt recognition and initiation of management of children with acute iron poisoning is the single most critical element in decreasing the morbidity and mortality associated with these products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-409
Number of pages17
JournalPediatric Clinics of North America
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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