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Appendectomy due to lead poisoning: a case-report

DOI: 10.1186/1745-6673-3-23

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Abstract:

We report a case of occupational lead poisoning in an adult battery worker with abdominal colic who initially underwent appendectomy with removal of normal appendix. Later on he was diagnosed with lead poisoning and was treated appropriately with lead chelator (CaNa2EDTA).Lead poisoning is frequently overlooked as the differential diagnosis of acute abdomen which may result in unnecessary surgery. Appropriate occupational history taking is helpful in making a correct diagnosis. Occupational lead poisoning is a preventable disorder and a serious challenge for the health and labor authorities in developing countries.Lead is present in trace amounts in all soils, water, and foods. Currently, lead is used in more than 900 industries, including mining, smelting, refining, battery manufacturing, soldering, and so on. [1]Lead toxicity today is recognized as a major environmental health risk, with the most serious effects in young children. [1] But owing to insufficient controlling measures in work places, lead poisoning is yet a common occupational health hazard in developing countries and many misdiagnoses and malpractices can occur due to unawareness of lead poisoning as an imitator of many organ symptoms. [2]Our patient is a 41 year-old married male (with 3 children, the eldest being 7) living in Tehran. His medical history did not show any other disease or hospitalization. He is a heavy smoker (about 30 pack-year). He has been working as an operator of a machine used to cut and finish lead plates for 14 years in a battery-manufacturing plant. He used to work in a lead smelting plant for 2 years before his current job.He has had severe abdominal colic since 4 months ago. He was admitted in a hospital with the diagnosis of appendicitis and underwent an appendectomy operation (pathology revealed normal tissue of appendix) without any improvement in symptoms. He has also had other symptoms including headache, lethargy, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, muscle pain (especial

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