This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
Since the observations of Dupuytren, who reported three cases of aortic aneurism relieved by lead acetate (together with small bleedings and rest), this remedy has been tried by many physicians. Dr. Owen Rees reported a case of acute popliteal aneurism (Lancet, i., 1865), with thin walls, and no coagula in the sac, which did not improve under pressure, and was thought incurable without operation; on October 29th, 3 gr. of acetate with opium were ordered thrice daily, the diet was not restricted, nor rest enforced: on November 1st, there was a slight blue line on the gums: on November 5th, the dose was increased to 5 gr., and this was continued for twenty-six days, when the remedy was stopped on account of colic: aneurismal pulsation had ceased. On December 31st the man was at work, and on January 17th reported cured. This rather striking instance I have not found supported by the results of others, though Dr. A. Clark reports a case of thoracic aneurism in which 2 gr. of acetate with opium were given thrice daily for two months, and the patient got better; he was kept constantly at rest (Medical Times, ii., 1867, p. 566). Stille remarks that the sacculated form of aneurism can only be cured by coagulation of blood in the sac, and in so far as acetate of lead promotes this, it assists a cure, but in the fusiform aneurism, with symmetrical distension, no mere astringent can exert a salutary power. Bellingham objects to the use of lead in any case, and Mr. T. Holmes, who has known aneurism develop during the course of a lead colic, asserts that the acetate is of no real value in the treatment of the malady (Lancet, i., 1872). Dr. Bristowe points out that it may help to quiet the circulation, but cannot really coagulate blood within the vessels, otherwise its administration would lead to danger from thrombosis or embo-lism. From a general review of the evidence at present before us, I should conclude that although individual cases of apparent benefit may be cited, as a rule very little can be expected in aneurism from the use of lead.