What EEG findings are characteristic of aluminum toxicity?

Updated: Oct 09, 2019
  • Author: Eli S Neiman, DO, FACN; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
  • Print


Aluminum toxicity

Flaten et al reported a wide range of toxic effects of aluminum. This element has been demonstrated in plants and aquatic animals in nature, in experimental animals by several routes of exposure, and under different clinical conditions in humans. [67] Aluminum toxicity is a major problem in agriculture, affecting perhaps as much as 40% of arable soil in the world. In fresh waters acidified by acid rain, aluminum toxicity has led to fish extinction. Aluminum is a very potent neurotoxin. Subtle neurocognitive and psychomotor effects and EEG abnormalities have been reported at plasma aluminum levels as low as 50 μg/L.

Infants and patients with impaired renal function could be particularly susceptible to aluminum accumulation and toxicity. Evidence exists to suggest that aluminum may be the causative agent in the development of dementia in patients with chronic renal failure who are on dialysis (ie, dialysis dementia). The EEG may become abnormal months before the full-blown dementia develops. Aluminum also is associated with dialysis encephalopathy, which often is accompanied by osteomalacia and anemia. Such effects also have been reported in certain patient groups without renal failure.

Aluminum accumulation occurs in the tissues of workers with long-term occupational exposure to aluminum dusts or fumes. Such exposure may cause neurologic effects.

In dialysis dementia, the EEG abnormalities usually are diffuse slowing, although TWs may occur. When seizure develops, high-voltage spike and slow-wave complexes and paroxysmal bursts with a frequency of 2-4 Hz have been observed. Polymorphic frontally dominant delta often is observed. The background slowing usually correlates with severity of mental status impairment. Subcortical dysfunction may be present with FIRDA.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!