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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 43

of 'Potentially toxic plant ingestions in children: Clinical manifestations and evaluation'

[Poisoning with a podophyllin-containing wart-treating tincture].
Leitner J, Hofbauer F, Ackerl M
Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2002;127(28-29):1516.
HISTORY AND ADMISSION FINDINGS: A 57-year-old depressive and alcohol-dependent man was admitted because of frequent nausea and vomiting and abdominal complaints after he had ingested 40 ml of a tincture for treating warts. He was under the influence of alcohol, but normally oriented and without contributory findings other than his gastrointestinal complaints and tachypnea.
INVESTIGATIONS: Transaminases were raised (GOT 1197 U/l, GPT 170 U/l, gammaGT 150 U/l, LDH 2047 U/l), as were creatine phosphokinase (426 U/l) and ferritin (12 200 ng/ml). Platelet count was 36000 mm3, Leucocytes count 11 700/mm (3). Gastroscopy showed marked mucosal necrosis along the entire esophagus and the pulled-up small intestine (state after gastrectomy).
DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT AND COURSE: The patient became comatose within 5 hours, acidotic, oliguric, required ventilation and went into severe shock. The symptoms and the fact that podophyllin (pod.) was the main agent in the wart preparation confirmed the suspicion of pod. poisoning. Symptomatic and intensive care measures stabilized his critically grave condition. He was extubated on the 7th day after ingestion and on the 10th day was discharged at his own request in a relatively good general state. When he was re-admitted after 4 weeks he was without psychiatric symptoms but deeply depressed, and he had signs of a polyneuropathy in all limbs, typical of pod. toxin poisoning.
CONCLUSION: Pod. toxin, a spindle poison, is the toxic agent of pod., the resin from the roots and rhizomes of various Berberis plants. While the potential toxicity of the resin, taken either orally or applied externally, has been long known, the poorly definied raw product is still being added to anti-wart tinctures.
Abteilung für Anästhesie und Intensivmedizin, Allgemeinöffentliches Krankenhaus Oberpullendorf, Germany. josefa_leitner@hotmail.com