Urinary and Serum Metal Levels as Indicators of Embedded Tungsten Alloy Fragments

Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD 20889-5603, USA.
Military medicine (Impact Factor: 0.77). 09/2008; 173(8):754-8. DOI: 10.7205/MILMED.173.8.754
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Novel metal formulations are being used with increasing frequency on the modern battlefield. In many cases the health effects of these materials are not known, especially when they are embedded as fragments. Imaging techniques, although useful for determining location, provide no information regarding the composition of embedded fragments. In this report, we show that laboratory rats implanted with weapons-grade tungsten alloy (tungsten, nickel, and cobalt) pellets demonstrate significant increases in both urinary and serum levels of tungsten, nickel, and cobalt, which indicates that such measurements can provide information on the composition of embedded fragments. We also propose that, in addition to the requirements promulgated by the recent directive on analysis of metal fragments removed from Department of Defense personnel (Health Affairs policy 07-029), urine and blood/serum samples should be collected from personnel and analyzed for metal content. Such measurements could yield information on the composition of retained fragments and provide the basis for further treatment options.

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