2022 Volume 16 Issue 1 Pages 49-51
Arsenic has widespread use in agriculture, in alternative medicine and in treatment of certain malignancies, therefore it is vital to timely recognize and treat arsenic toxicity in a suspected patient. Hemodialysis conventionally is thought to play only a supportive role in managing arsenic toxicity but it can be life-saving when chelation is not possible or available. A middle-aged female with a history of non-dialysis-dependent chronic kidney disease (CKD) was brought to the emergency with altered sensorium. On presentation, she was hemodynamically stable with pallor and exfoliating lesions on palms, hyperkeratotic lesions on soles and hyperpigmented macules on the trunk. Investigations revealed pancytopenia and deranged kidney function tests. In view of skin lesions, the toxicological analysis was sent which revealed high levels of Arsenic (594 and 2,553 mcg/L in blood and urine respectively). Thus, a diagnosis of metabolic encephalopathy with the underlying cause being uremic or/and arsenic intoxication was made. Considering renal failure, she was managed with thrice-weekly hemodialysis. Chelation was not possible due to unavailability of agents during lockdown in Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Following dialysis, there was a significant improvement in sensorium, skin lesions, and pancytopenia depicting the utility of hemodialysis in such cases. Thus, hemodialysis is an effective and perhaps underutilized modality in the treatment of arsenic intoxication with impaired renal function.