Lead encephalopathy in adults

Janapareddy Vijaya Bhaskara Rao, Bhuma Vengamma, Thota Naveen, Vandanapu Naveen
Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice 2014, 5 (2): 161-3
24966557
Lead poisoning is a common occupational health hazard in developing countries. We report the varied clinical presentation, diagnostic and management issues in two adult patients with lead encephalopathy. Both patients worked in a battery manufacturing unit. Both patients presented with seizures and one patient also complained of abdominal colic and vomiting. Both were anemic and a lead line was present. Blood lead level in both the patients was greater than 25 µg/dl. Magnetic resonance imaging of brain revealed bilateral symmetric involvement of the thalamus, lentiform nucleus in both patients and also the external capsules, sub-cortical white matter in one patient. All these changes, seen as hyperintensities in T2-weighted images suggested demyelination. They were advised avoidance of further exposure to lead and were treated with anti-epileptics; one patient also received D-penicillamine. They improved well on follow-up. Lead encephalopathy is an uncommon but important manifestation of lead toxicity in adults.

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