Hair analysis is used to assess exposure to heavy metals in patients presenting with nonspecific symptoms and is a commonly used procedure in patients referred to our clinic. We are frequently called on to evaluate patients who have health-related concerns as a result of hair analysis. Three patients first presented to outside physicians with nonspecific, multisystemic symptoms. A panel of analytes was measured in hair, and one or more values were interpreted as elevated. As a result of the hair analysis and other unconventional diagnostic tests, the patients presented to us believing they suffered from metal toxicity. In this paper we review the clinical efficacy of this procedure within the context of a patient population with somatic disorders and no clear risk factors for metal intoxication. We also review limitations of hair analysis in this setting; these limitations include patient factors such as low pretest probability of disease and test factors such as the lack of validation of analytic techniques, the inability to discern between exogenous contaminants and endogenous toxicants in hair, the variability of analytic procedures, low interlaboratory reliability, and the increased likelihood of false positive test results in the measurement of panels of analytes.
We take your privacy seriously. You can review and change the way we collect information below.
These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
Cookies used to make website functionality more relevant to you. These cookies perform functions like remembering presentation options or choices and, in some cases, delivery of web content that based on self-identified area of interests.
Cookies used to track the effectiveness of CDC public health campaigns through clickthrough data.
Cookies used to enable you to share pages and content that you find interesting on CDC.gov through third party social networking and other websites. These cookies may also be used for advertising purposes by these third parties.