Lead poisoning


Appropriate Tests


Lead, Lead urine; Full blood count, Blood film.

For sub-toxic exposure, or in acute organic lead poisoning, only blood lead is reliable.

If blood lead is normal in a patient with a history of past exposure: urinary lead increment following EDTA infusion (consult pathologist).

Lead assays have largely superseded assays of 5-aminolaevulinate, porphyrins (urine and red cell) and porphobilinogen synthetase (red cell).

In children


Acute toxicity


  • Abdominal pain


  • Haemolytic anaemia

Review Full blood count, Blood film; Reticulocyte count. See Haemolysis for biochemical tests to document the presence of haemolysis.

  • Encephalopathy


Subacute/chronic toxicity


  • Mental retardation


In adults


Abdominal pain


Lead nephropathy

See Renal tubulo-interstitial disorders

  • Hyperuricaemia


Sideroblastic anaemia






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