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Should lead levels be monitored if a bullet is lodged near heart?

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Posted on Sat, 30 May 2015
Question: my friend has a bullet lodged next to heart ( thats why the doctors left it in her ). Does she need to get a lead poisoning blood test? every year? or what are symptoms if it can be harming after 15 years?


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Answered by Dr. Muhammad Sareer Khalil (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Yes, lead levels need to be monitored

Detailed Answer:
Hello and Welcome

I appreciate your concern

Yes lead levels need to be monitored as there is a possibility of lead intoxication from retained bullets over long term. Abdominal colicky pain, unexplained anemia, neurological symptoms/deterioration and renal dysfunction are common signs and symptoms that can be related to such delayed complications i.e after a period of 10 to 15 years.

Late complications may also include embolization of the projectile, endocarditis and pericarditis depending upon the exact location of the bullet. Computed tomography, angiocardiography and transesophageal echocardiography are useful in exactly locating the projectile. Asymptomatic patients would not require intervention if the bullet is completely embedded and no adverse effects have appeared till date.


Wishing you best of health

Thanks

Please consult your doctor before deciding on any further course of action.

Dr. M.S. Khalil
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Raju A.T
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Answered by
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Dr. Muhammad Sareer Khalil

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2012

Answered : 2906 Questions

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Should lead levels be monitored if a bullet is lodged near heart?

Brief Answer: Yes, lead levels need to be monitored Detailed Answer: Hello and Welcome I appreciate your concern Yes lead levels need to be monitored as there is a possibility of lead intoxication from retained bullets over long term. Abdominal colicky pain, unexplained anemia, neurological symptoms/deterioration and renal dysfunction are common signs and symptoms that can be related to such delayed complications i.e after a period of 10 to 15 years. Late complications may also include embolization of the projectile, endocarditis and pericarditis depending upon the exact location of the bullet. Computed tomography, angiocardiography and transesophageal echocardiography are useful in exactly locating the projectile. Asymptomatic patients would not require intervention if the bullet is completely embedded and no adverse effects have appeared till date. Wishing you best of health Thanks Please consult your doctor before deciding on any further course of action. Dr. M.S. Khalil