Iron Overdose in a Pregnant Patient

This case is written by Dr. Kate Hayman (@hayman_kate) and Dr. Dawn Lim (@curious doc). Dr. Hayman (MD MPH FRCPC) is an emergency physician at University Health Network and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. Her interests are in health equity, advocacy education, and the use of simulation in low-resource settings.

Why it Matters

Iron toxicity is a relatively rare presentation to the ED. Familiarity with its presentation can be vital to recognizing this potentially lethal overdose. This case highlights the following:

  • The presenting features of moderate to severe iron toxicity
  • The fact that prenatal vitamins contain ferrous fumarate
  • When chelation therapy is indicated for an iron overdose

Clinical Vignette

You are working in a large community ED. You are called to a resuscitation room where EMS has just brought in a 29-year woman with altered mental status. Her boyfriend called 9-1-1 when he found her confused this morning. She is 10 weeks pregnant and had some vomiting and diarrhea yesterday. Her boyfriend is in the waiting room.

Case Summary

A 29-year old woman with a history of depression and an early unplanned pregnancy is found at home with decreased level of consciousness. She comes to the ED with EMS and her boyfriend. She remains altered in the resuscitation room and declines despite aggressive resuscitation.

After gathering history from the boyfriend, it seems likely that she has ingested a large quantity of pre-natal vitamins resulting in iron toxicity. This is confirmed on bloodwork and imaging. She will require airway management, hemodynamic support and specific chelation therapy.

Download the case here: Pregnant Iron OD

AXR for the case found here:

Toxicology_Iron_Tablets-936x1024

(AXR source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/top-ten-foreign-bodies/)

CXR for the case found here:

post-ETT-CXR

(CXR source: http://jetem.org/ettcxr/)

Abdominal U/S showing IUP for the case found here:

IUP

(U/S source: https://radiologykey.com/first-trimester-pregnancy/)

FAST for the case found here:

Untitled

(U/S source: http://www.emergencyultrasoundteaching.com)

Pelvic U/S for the case found here:

Untitled2

(U/S source: http://www.emergencyultrasoundteaching.com)

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