Gastosin Ingestion

Jalapa, NicaraguaCC:

“Gastosin” ingestion


29F BIB family after patient was found down at home, near opened bottle of Gastosin in presumed suicide attempt. On arrival to ED, patient was awake, but unresponsive, groaning and clutching stomach. GCS  was E3-V2-M5, HR 110, BP 60/palp, RR 24.

ED Course:

Upon arrival, placed two large-bore IV w/rapid infusion of 2L NS and given DA 2g IV x2. NG tube placed, initiated lavage of gastric contents with NS. Patient’s mental status continued to deteriorate, became unresponsive.




History of alcohol abuse and depression per family.


  • VS: 110bpm, 60/palp, 24 R/min, no temp/O2sat available
  • General: Ill-appearing female, laying on bed in considerable distress, groaning and clutching stomach, diaphoretic
  • HEENT: NC/AT, PERRL (4-3mm), EOMI, MMM no lesions, no tongue lacerations, breath with foul odor, TM’s clear b/l.
  • CV: RRR, normal S1/S2, tachycardia, faint heart sounds, JVP elevated though patient supine
  • Lungs: CTAB, no crackles/wheezes
  • Abdomen: +BS, soft, non-distended, no guarding, no ecchymosis
  • GU: Normal external genitalia, loss of stool noted.
  • Neuro: Patient confused, initially responsive to sternal rub, moving all 4 extremities spontaneously/equally, EOMI without nystagmus, gag reflex present, DTR 2+ and symmetric throughout with toes downgoing.
  • Extremities: Cool, peripheral pulses 0 (radial, PT, DP), 1+ (femoral, brachial, carotid)1, capillary refill 3sec
  • Skin: No visible skin lesions

Assessment & Plan:

29F, unknown PMH, ċ ingestion of unknown amount of “Gastosin”. Patient presenting in likely cardiogenic shock given hypotension with reflex sympathetic activation (evidenced by peripheral vasoconstriction à cool extremities, diaphoresis) and no evidence of hemorrhage. Gastosin is a pesticide used in the storage of maize2, and is well-known locally as a common agent in self-poisonings. Chemically composed of aluminum phosphide, and liberates phosphine gas on exposure to moisture which is rapidly absorbed by inhalation, transdermally or gastrointestinally. Toxicity results from free radical damage and inhibition of enzymes of metabolism (particularly affecting cardiac myocytes). Clinical features include vomiting, resistant hypotension and metabolic acidosis.3

Patient’s symptoms and presentation are consistent with cardiogenic shock secondary to Gastosin ingestion. Management included fluid resuscitation and inotropic support with dopamine, as well as gastric lavage. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and patient remained hypotensive with worsening of mental status, and eventual death.

Differential Diagnosis for Shock:

A System for Shock

A System for the Management of Aluminum Phosphide Poisoning:4,5

Management of Aluminum Phosphide Poisoning

The Glasgow Coma Scale:

  Eye Opening Best Motor Response Best Verbal Response
1 None None None
2 Pain Extension Groans
3 Verbal Flexion Unintelligible
4 Open Withdraws Disoriented
5 Localizes Oriented
6 Obeys commands


  1. Hill RD, Smith RB III. Examination of the Extremities: Pulses, Bruits, and Phlebitis. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 30. Available from:
  2. Udoh, J., Ikotun, T., & Cardwell, K. (n.d.). Storage systems for maize (zea mays l.) in nigeria from five agro-ecological zones. Proceedings of the 6th International Working Conference on Stored-product Protection, 2, 960-965.
  3. Bogle, R. G., Theron, P., Brooks, P., Dargan, P. I., & Redhead, J. (2006). Aluminium phosphide poisoning. Emergency medicine journal : EMJ, 23(1), e3. doi:10.1136/emj.2004.015941
  4. Gurjar, M., Baronia, A. K., Azim, A., & Sharma, K. (2011). Managing aluminum phosphide poisonings. Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock, 4(3), 378–384. doi:10.4103/0974-2700.83868
  5. Jones, A. L., & Volans, G. (1999). Management of self poisoning. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 319(7222), 1414–1417.