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Keywords:

  • elemental mercury;
  • Cortical myoclonus;
  • mercury poisoning;
  • mercurial tremors;
  • cerebellar ataxia

Abstract

Mercury toxicity causes postural tremors, commonly referred to as “mercurial tremors,” and cerebellar dysfunction. A 23-year woman, 2 years after injecting herself with elemental mercury developed disabling generalized myoclonus and ataxia. Electrophysiological studies confirmed the myoclonus was probably of cortical origin. Her deficits progressed over 2 years and improved after subcutaneous mercury deposits at the injection site were surgically cleared. Myoclonus of cortical origin has never been described in mercury poisoning. It is important to ask patients presenting with jerks about exposure to elemental mercury even if they have a progressive illness, as it is a potentially reversible condition as in our patient. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society