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Starch and talc emboli in drug addicts' lungs
  1. D. Lamb,
  2. G. Roberts1
  1. Department of Pathology, St George's Hospital Medical School, London
  2. Department of Forensic Medicine, St George's Hospital Medical School, London


    The lungs of eight drug addicts dying as a consequence of their habit have been examined. All showed the presence of small amounts of talc emboli and five the presence of starch emboli. Talc was invariably associated with a marked foreign body reaction which was insignificant in association with starch. Animal experiments showed very rapid (90% in 24 hours) removal of maize starch emboli; such rapid removal in man would explain the lack of a foreign body response. Quantitation of the amount of starch present in lungs from two of the cases gave values of 1·5 and 5·2 g. The higher amount could have been a contributory factor in the sudden death of the addict. The amounts of talc seen were not sufficient to be of clinical significance.

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    • 1 Now at NIH, Washington.