Daru : journal of Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences

Thallium exists in opioid poisoned patients.

PMID 26231176


Thallium (Tl) is a toxic heavy metal that exists in nature. Tl poisoning (thallotoxicosis) may occur in opioid addicts. This study was designed to evaluate the frequency and level of urinary Tl in opioid abusers. In addition, clinical findings were evaluated. A total of 150 subjects were examined. Cases with a history of at least 3 years of abuse were admitted in the Imam Reza Hospital as the case group; 50 non-opioid abusers from the target population were included as the control group. Twenty-four hour urinary qualitative and quantitative Tl analyses were performed on both groups. Out of the 150 subjects, 128 (85 %) were negative for qualitative urinary Tl, followed by 5 % (trace), 7 % (1+), 2 % (2+), and 1 % (3+). Mean (standard error (SE), Min-Max) quantitative urinary Tl level was 14 μg/L (3.5 μg/L, 0-346 μg/L). Mean urinary Tl level in the case group was 21 μg/L (5 μg/L, 0-346 μg/L) and that in the controls was 1 μg/L (0.14 μg/L, 0-26 μg/L), which were significantly different (P = 0.001). The most frequent clinical findings were ataxia (86 %), sweating (81 %), and constipation (54 %). In all cases (n = 150), the mean (SE) value for cases with positive qualitative urinary Tl was 26.8 μg/L (0.9 μg/L) and that in the negative cases was 2.3 μg/L (0.2 μg/L), which were significantly different (P = 0.002). This study showed that long-term opioid abuse may lead to Tl exposure. In opioid abusers with the clinical manifestation of thallotoxicosis, urinary Tl should be determined.

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