Lead toxicity in a 14-year-old female with retained bullet fragments

Troy Coon, Michael Miller, Farshad Shirazi, John Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


In the past 3 decades, lead levels in North American children have been declining. Despite the decline in lead exposure, lead toxicity remains a significant childhood environmental health hazard. The usual route of lead exposure is through ingestion, but lead toxicity secondary to retained bullet fragments has been well documented in the adult literature. The diagnosis of lead toxicity is often difficult and delayed secondary to vague and transient symptoms. Recognizing high-risk characteristics of bullet fragments can improve clinician awareness to the possibility of lead toxicity. The primary management of patients with continued lead exposure is to remove the source of exposure. However, in the case of retained bullet fragments, initiation of chelation therapy before surgical removal may be essential in preventing systemic toxicity. We present the case of a 14-year-old female with lead toxicity who presented with an 18-month course of chronic abdominal pain, vomiting, and anorexia 2 years after sustaining a gunshot wound to the right leg. The patient was treated with oral succimer and operative removal of bullet fragments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-230
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Adolescent health
  • Gunshot injuries
  • Lead poisoning
  • Lead toxicity
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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