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Colchicine poisoning by accidental ingestion of meadow saffron (Colchicum
autumnale): pathological and medicolegal aspects
Michael Klintschar, , a,
and Peter Rolla
a Institute of Legal Medicine, University Graz, Universitätsplatz 4, A8010 Graz, Austria
b Institute of Pathology, University Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 25, A8036 Graz, Austria
Received 1 April 1999; accepted 5 October 1999. Available online 14 December 1999.
Michael Klintschar, , a, Christine Beham-Schmidtb, Herbert Radnerb, Gerald Henninga and Peter Rolla
Although intoxications with colchicine, the alkaloid of Colchicum autumnale (meadow saffron), are well known, in most cases the intoxications are evoked by oral or parenteral preparations traditionally used as medication against gout. The accidental ingestion of Colchicum autumnale, on the other hand, is a rare event and has to our knowledge only twice been described in detail. We report a further case in which two persons confused this highly poisonous plant with wild garlic (Allium ursinum), a popular spice in the Central European cuisine. While one person merely complained about a 3-day episode of nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhea, the second person died of multi-organ system derangements 48 h after the ingestion of the colchicum leaves. At autopsy hemorrhagic lung oedema, hypocellular bonemarrow, centrilobular fatty necrosis of the liver and necrosis of the proximal convoluted tubuli of the kidneys were observed. A colchicine concentration of 7.5 g/ml was found in the bile whereas no substance was detected in the postmortem blood.
Author Keywords: Colchicine; Colchicum autumnale; Plant
poisoning; Toxicology; Pathology
Corresponding author. Tel.: +43-316-380-4327; fax: +43-316-380-9655; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 106, Issue 3 , 20 December 1999, Pages 191-200
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