What causes calciphylaxis?

Updated: Feb 24, 2020
  • Author: Julia R Nunley, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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The cause of calciphylaxis remains obscure. Most cases occur in the setting of chronic renal failure, abnormal calcium-phosphate homeostasis, and hyperparathyroidism. Both hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia may be present, and the calcium-phosphate product frequently exceeds 60-70 mg2/dL2. However, calciphylaxis may occur in the setting of normal, or minimally elevated, calcium and phosphate levels.

Case reports exist of calciphylaxis occurring in primary hyperparathyroidism, cirrhosis, Crohn disease, malignancy, and rheumatoid arthritis, without renal disease. The pathogenesis of calciphylaxis in these cases is uncertain. [21, 18, 22, 23] The exact role of PTH is uncertain because calciphylaxis may occur after total parathyroidectomy, in the absence of measurable PTH levels.

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