Classification & external resources
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Hypercalcaemia (or Hypercalcemia) is an elevated calcium level in the blood. (Normal range: 9-10.5 mg/dL or 2.2-2.6 mmol/L). It can be an asymptomatic laboratory finding, but because an elevated calcium level is often indicative of other diseases, a diagnosis should be undertaken if it persists. It can be due to excessive skeletal calcium release, increased intestinal calcium absorption, or decreased renal calcium excretion.
Additional recommended knowledge
Signs and symptoms
Hypercalcemia per se can result in fatigue, depression, confusion, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, pancreatitis or increased urination "Bones, stones, groans, and psychic moans" is a saying which will help you remember the signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia; if it is chronic it can result in urinary calculi (renal stones or bladder stones). Abnormal heart rhythms can result, and EKG findings of a short QT interval and a widened T wave suggest hypercalcemia.
Symptoms are more common at high calcium blood values (12.0 mg/dL or 3 mmol/l). Severe hypercalcemia (above 15-16 mg/dL or 3.75-4 mmol/l) is considered a medical emergency: at these levels, coma and cardiac arrest can result.
The goal of therapy is to treat the hypercalcemia first and subsequently effort is directed to treat the underlying cause.
Initial therapy: fluids and diuretics
- hydration, increasing salt intake, and forced diuresis.
- hydration is needed because many patients are dehydrated due to vomiting or renal defects in concentrating urine.
- increased salt intake also can increase body fluid volume as well as increasing urine sodium excretion, which further increases urinary calcium excretion (In other words, calcium and sodium (salt) are handled in a similar way by the kidney. Anything that causes increased sodium (salt) excretion by the kidney will, en passant, cause increased calcium excretion by the kidney)
- after rehydration, a loop diuretic such as furosemide can be given to permit continued large volume intravenous salt and water replacement while minimizing the risk of blood volume overload and thence pulmonary edema. In addition, loop diuretics tend to depress renal calcium reabsorption thereby helping to lower blood calcium levels
- can usually decrease serum calcium by 1-3 mg/dL within 24 h
- caution must be taken to prevent potassium or magnesium depletion
Additional therapy: bisphosphonates and calcitonin
- bisphosphonates are pyrophosphate analogues with high affinity for bone, especially areas of high bone-turnover.
- they are taken up by osteoclasts and inhibit osteoclastic bone resorption
- current available drugs include (in order of potency): (1st gen) etidronate, (2nd gen) tiludronate, IV pamidronate, alendronate, risedronate, and (3rd gen) zolendronate
- all patients with cancer-associated hypercalcemia should receive treatment with bisphosphonates since the 'first line' therapy (above) cannot be continued indefinitely nor is it without risk. Further, even if the 'first line' therapy has been effective, it is a virtual certainty that the hypercalcemia will recur in the patient with hypercalcemia of malignancy. Use of bisphoponates in such circumstances, then, becomes both therapeutic and preventative
- patients in renal failure and hypercalcemia should have a risk-benefit analysis before being given bisphosphonates, since they are relatively contraindicated in renal failure.
- Calcitonin blocks bone resorption and also increases urinary calcium excretion by inhibiting renal calcium reabsorption
- Usually used in life-threatening hypercalcemia along with rehydration, diuresis, and bisphosphonates
- Helps prevent recurrence of hypercalcemia
- Dose is 4 Units per kg via subcutaneous or intramuscular route every 12 hours, usually not continued indefinitely
- rarely used, or used in special circumstances
- plicamycin inhibits bone resorption (rarely used)
- gallium nitrate inhibits bone resorption and changes structure of bone crystals (rarely used)
- glucocorticoids increase urinary calcium excretion and decrease intestinal calcium absorption
- no effect in calcium level in normal or 1' hyperparathyroidism
- effective in hypercalcemia due to osteolytic malignancies (multiple myeloma, leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma, carcinoma of the breast) due to antitumor properties
- also effective in hypervitaminosis D and sarcoidosis
- dialysis usually used in severe hypercalcemia complicated by renal failure. Supplemental phosphate should be monitored and added if necessary
- phosphate therapy can correct the hypophosphatemia in the face of hypercalcemia and lower serum calcium
|Metabolic pathology / Inborn error of metabolism (E70-90, 270-279)|
|Amino acid||Aromatic (Phenylketonuria, Alkaptonuria, Ochronosis, Tyrosinemia, Albinism, Histidinemia) - Organic acidemias (Maple syrup urine disease, Propionic acidemia, Methylmalonic acidemia, Isovaleric acidemia, 3-Methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase deficiency) - Transport (Cystinuria, Cystinosis, Hartnup disease, Fanconi syndrome, Oculocerebrorenal syndrome) - Sulfur (Homocystinuria, Cystathioninuria) - Urea cycle disorder (N-Acetylglutamate synthase deficiency, Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase I deficiency, Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, Citrullinemia, Argininosuccinic aciduria, Hyperammonemia) - Glutaric acidemia type 1 - Hyperprolinemia - Sarcosinemia|
|Carbohydrate||Lactose intolerance - Glycogen storage disease (type I, type II, type III, type IV, type V, type VI, type VII) - fructose metabolism (Fructose intolerance, Fructose bisphosphatase deficiency, Essential fructosuria) - galactose metabolism (Galactosemia, Galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase galactosemia, Galactokinase deficiency) - other intestinal carbohydrate absorption (Glucose-galactose malabsorption, Sucrose intolerance) - pyruvate metabolism and gluconeogenesis (PCD, PDHA) -
Pentosuria - Renal glycosuria|
|Lipid storage||Sphingolipidoses/Gangliosidoses: GM2 gangliosidoses (Sandhoff disease, Tay-Sachs disease) - GM1 gangliosidoses - Mucolipidosis type IV - Gaucher's disease - Niemann-Pick disease - Farber disease - Fabry's disease - Metachromatic leukodystrophy - Krabbe disease|
Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (Batten disease) - Cerebrotendineous xanthomatosis - Cholesteryl ester storage disease (Wolman disease)
|Fatty acid metabolism||Lipoprotein/lipidemias: Hyperlipidemia - Hypercholesterolemia - Familial hypercholesterolemia - Xanthoma - Combined hyperlipidemia - Lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase deficiency - Tangier disease - Abetalipoproteinemia |
Fatty acid: Adrenoleukodystrophy - Acyl-coA dehydrogenase (Short-chain, Medium-chain, Long-chain 3-hydroxy, Very long-chain) - Carnitine (Primary, I, II)
|Mineral||Cu Wilson's disease/Menkes disease - Fe Haemochromatosis - Zn Acrodermatitis enteropathica - PO43�' Hypophosphatemia/Hypophosphatasia - Mg2+ Hypermagnesemia/Hypomagnesemia - Ca2+ Hypercalcaemia/Hypocalcaemia/Disorders of calcium metabolism|
and acid-base balance
|Electrolyte disturbance - Na+ Hypernatremia/Hyponatremia - Acidosis (Metabolic, Respiratory, Lactic) - Alkalosis (Metabolic, Respiratory) - Mixed disorder of acid-base balance - H2O Dehydration/Hypervolemia - K+ Hypokalemia/Hyperkalemia - Cl�' Hyperchloremia/Hypochloremia|
|Purine and pyrimidine||Hyperuricemia - Lesch-Nyhan syndrome - Xanthinuria|
|Porphyrin||Acute intermittent, Gunther's, Cutanea tarda, Erythropoietic, Hepatoerythropoietic, Hereditary copro-, Variegate|
|Bilirubin||Unconjugated (Lucey-Driscoll syndrome, Gilbert's syndrome, Crigler-Najjar syndrome) - Conjugated (Dubin-Johnson syndrome, Rotor syndrome)|
|Glycosaminoglycan||Mucopolysaccharidosis - 1:Hurler/Hunter - 3:Sanfilippo - 4:Morquio - 6:Maroteaux-Lamy - 7:Sly|
|Glycoprotein||Mucolipidosis - I-cell disease - Pseudo-Hurler polydystrophy - Aspartylglucosaminuria - Fucosidosis - Alpha-mannosidosis - Sialidosis|
|Other||Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency - Cystic fibrosis - Amyloidosis (Familial Mediterranean fever) - Acatalasia|