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Crit Care Clin. 2005 Oct;21(4):673-89, v-vi.

Organic phosphorus compounds--nerve agents.

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Georgia Poison Center, Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital, Grady Health System, 80 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30303-3801, USA.


The organic phosphorous compounds (OPC) include both the military grade nerve agents and the organic phosphorous pesticides. The major mechanism of OPC toxicity is through inhibition of acetylcholinesterase in neuronal synapses leading to excess acetylcholine and overstimulation of target organs. Signs and symptoms depend on the affinity of the OPC for muscarinic versus nicotinic receptors, and are likely to include both. Muscarinic symptoms may include diarrhea, urination, bronchospasm, bronchorrhea, emesis, and salivation. Nicotinic symptoms such as paralysis and fasciculations may also occur. Central nervous system toxicity may include seizures, altered mental status, and apnea, and require prompt intervention. Treatment includes early airway and ventilatory support as well as antidotal therapy with atropine, pralidoxime, and diazepam. Goals of therapy include prevention and rapid treatment of hypoxia and seizures, as these are linked to patient outcome.

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