Veterinary and human toxicology

Antimony toxicity from the use of tartar emetic for the treatment of alcohol abuse.

PMID 15587254


Antimony is a poisonous element with toxic properties that mimic those of arsenic. Numerous reports describe gastrointestinal complications of vomiting, diarrhea and stomatitis associated with antimony exposure. However, antimony toxicity from the use of tartar emetic as a treatment for alcohol abuse has never been described previously. A 19-y-o man with a history of alcohol abuse ingested a 10 mL bottle of "Soluto Vital" (tartar emetic, 50 mg/mL), produced in Guatemala for treatment of alcohol abuse. He presented 60 min after ingestion with severe vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, weakness and orthostasis. Initial laboratory evaluations were remarkable for creatinine of 2.5 mg/dL, potassium 6.1 mEq/L, and 60% hematocrit. He was given activated charcoal, iv saline and antiemetics. Over the next 48 h his creatinine normalized to 1.1 mg/dL and the hematocrit returned to 53%; urine had an antimony concentration of 1200 mcg/L (normal = < 10 mcg/L). It is important to recognize that foreign alcohol therapies aversive therapy other than disulfiram may be used, the contents of such a foreign product should be identified.