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Am J Nephrol. 1997;17(2):118-23.

Long-term effect of intravenous calcitriol on the treatment of severe hyperparathyroidism, parathyroid gland mass and bone mineral density in haemodialysis patients.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


We conducted this study on 15 chronic haemodialysis patients to evaluate the efficacy of i.v. calcitriol over a 1-year period in the treatment of severe secondary hyperparathyroidism (HPT), in particular its effect on bone mineral density (BMD) and parathyroid gland mass. Mean age was 39 +/- 11.9 (20-65) years and dialysis duration was 58 +/- 3 (19-130) months. i.v. calcitriol was given at a dose of 1 microg post-dialysis 3 times/week for 3 weeks; the dose was then adjusted to maintain the total serum calcium at less than 2.88 mmol/l. The maximum dose was 3 microg 3 times/week. Serum calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) were determined prior to treatment, then weekly for 6 weeks and every 2 weeks thereafter. Skeletal survey, dual photon densitometry and parathyroid ultrasound (US) were done prior to treatment and after 1 year. Bone biopsy was done in 10 patients at the beginning of treatment. There was a significant reduction (p < 0.01) in pre-treatment mid-region serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) from 1,476 +/- 895 to 489 +/- 485 P mol/l, as well as alkaline phosphatase (p < 0.04) from 236.5 +/- 221 to 116.3 +/- 49 U/l. This was without a significant increase in serum Ca (2.15 +/- 0.25 to 2.44 +/- 0.26 mmol/l, p = 0.08). Three patients had recurrent hypercalcaemia which responded to reduction of Ca in dialysate. There was a significant increase in BMD over the spine from 1.071 +/- 0.25 to 1.159 +/- 0.22 g/cm2 (p < 0.003) with a percent increase of 9.3 +/- 8.9% as well as over the femoral neck from 0.834 +/- 0.002 to 0.89 +/- 0.09 g/cm2 (p < 0.001) with a percent increase of 7.45 +/- 6.81%. Five patients had enlarged parathyroid glands by US and in 3 of these, there was a significant reduction to normal with treatment. Bone biopsy was done in 10 patients. Six patients had predominant hyperparathyroid bone disease and 4 had mixed uraemic osteodystrophy. In conclusion, long-term i.v. treatment with calcitriol is effective in the treatment of severe secondary HPT. PTH decreased without a significant increase in serum Ca. BMD also increases during this therapy.

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