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Respir Med. 2001 Mar;95(3):187-90.

Hypercalcaemia in Greek patients with tuberculosis before the initiation of anti-tuberculosis treatment.

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Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Sofia Chest Diseases Hospital, Athens, Greece.


Hypercalcaemia has been known to occur in association with granulomatous diseases. The aim of this study was to ascertain the incidence of hypercalcaemia and determine the prevalence of symptoms associated with it in Greek patients with newly-diagnosed tuberculosis (TB), before the initiation of anti-tuberculosis treatment. We prospectively evaluated all patients with newly-diagnosed TB presenting, either as inpatients or as outpatients, to our hospital, during a 3-year period. We evaluated 88 patients with TB (50 males and 38 females), aged between 23 and 89 years (mean age+/-SD: 46.4+/-19 years), and 65 age- and sex-matched controls with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (36 males and 29 females), aged between 28 and 88 years (mean age+/-SD: 47.2+/-18 years). Among TB patients, 56 had pulmonary TB, 20 had pleural TB without evidence of pulmonary parenchyma involvement, eight had pulmonary and pleural TB, and four had disseminated disease. The mean (+/-SD) albumin-adjusted serum calcium concentration and the mean ionized calcium concentration were significantly higher in the TB group (2.49+/-0.21 mmol l(-1) and 1.27+/-0.02 mmol l(-1) respectively) than in the control group (2.36+/-0.11 mmol l(-1) and 1.19+/-0.02 mmol l(-1), P<0.05). In the TB group no correlation between type of disease and albumin-adjusted or ionized calcium concentration was seen. Hypercalcaemia was detected in 22 patients with TB (25%) but only three showed symptoms associated with it. We conclude that, although hypercalcaemia is a common laboratory finding among Greek patients with TB before anti-TB chemotherapy, it is usually asymtomatic.

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