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Arsenical peripheral neuropathy


A 49-year-old white man returned urgently to the UK after spending 3 months in Goa. He had a several week history of vomiting, weight loss, a widespread desquamating skin rash, and symptoms and signs of a progressive painful sensorimotor neuropathy. He had a mild normocytic anaemia and lymphopenia. Nerve conduction studies revealed a severe predominantly axonal large fibre sensorimotor neuropathy, confirmed on subsequent sural nerve biopsy. Once he had left Goa most of his symptoms started to rapidly settle although the neuropathic symptoms remained severe. Arsenic poisoning was suspected. A spot urine arsenic concentration was 300 μg/l, confirming the diagnosis. He was treated with chelation therapy. Deliberate arsenic poisoning was highly likely.

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