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Fatal ingestion of boric acid in an adult

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      Abstract

      A 45-year-old white man ingested approximately two cups of boric acid crystals dissolved in water in a suicide attempt. Nausea, vomiting, greenish diarrhea, and dehydration occurred shortly thereafter. Two days later, he presented to the hospital with hypotension, metabolic acidosis, oliguric renal failure, a generalized erythematous rash, and several superficial skin abrasions. His condition failed to improve despite intravenous fluids and vasopressors. He later developed atrial fibrillation with a rapid ventricular response and could not be converted to a sinus rhythm. This rhythm deteriorated to electromechanical dissociation, and the patient died 17 hours after admission. The urine and whole blood boric acid concentrations approximately 52 hours after ingestion were 160 and 42 mg/dL, respectively. These results are equivalent to urine and blood boron concentrations of 28 and 7 mg/dL, respectively. A postmortem urine boron concentration was 29.4 mg/dL. The autopsy report listed boron toxicity as the cause of death. This is the only adult reported to die from acute boric acid ingestion in recent years and may be atypical since the patient was untreated for 3 days and presented with dehydration and renal function impairment. This case suggests that lack of adequate urine flow and dehydration increases the risk of boron toxicity.

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