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Medicas UIS

Print version ISSN 0121-0319On-line version ISSN 1794-5240


DAZA-CORBA, Jeritza Catalina et al. Chronic heavy metal intoxication in survivors of improvised explosive devices with embedded fragments and its neoplastic potential. Exploratory systematic review. Medicas UIS [online]. 2022, vol.35, n.2, e300.  Epub Dec 02, 2022. ISSN 0121-0319.


Improvised explosive devices are unconventionalweapons that can cause multiple injuries and splinters internalized containing heavy metals, potentially affecting the victim's health, according to reports dating from 1977, which mention high mortality from cancer and other symptoms suggestive of chronic metal toxicity.


To describe the research results that report on the chronic toxicity produced by heavy metals in people who are victims of improvised explosive devices with internalized splinters, and its possible links with cancer.


Systematic exploratory review of published and grey literature which was carried out between march and may of 2021, in thesis repositories and different databases (Scielo, Pubmed, Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, Biblioteca Virtual en Salud, Freepdf, Google Académico, Open Grey); without time or geographical limit. Original articles from indexed scientific research journals or unpublished final reports were included, corresponding to scientific research with full text, in english, spanish and portuguese.


56 documents were evaluated, three were selected fulfilling the inclusion criteria. They were all written in the english language. Only one Iraqi study addressed the civilian population and the other studies referred to North American veterans. Elevated heavy metal levels, associated with circumscribed tissue abnormalities, were recurrent findings. There were no reports of established pathologies or clinical management.


The scientific evidence was scarce; as well as its relationship with established cancer, however, tissue changing surrounding these splinters have been reported. It is considered necessary to carry out more studies related to the subject, including long-term follow-up of detected tissue damage.

Keywords : Chronic Toxicity (DeCS); Heavy Metal Poisoning; Blast Injuries; Armed Conflicts; Neoplasms; Review Literature as Topic (MeSH).

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