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Ann Saudi Med. 1991 May;11(3):289-92.

Hypercalcemia in active pulmonary tuberculosis.

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Division of Respiratory Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, and Division of Nephrology, King Khalid University Hospital, and Sahary Chest Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


In a retrospective review of 241 patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis, hypercalcemia was found in 62 (26%). It was detected on presentation in 48 patients and developed in 14 patients 4 to 6 weeks aftr the start of antituberculous therapy. The mean (+/- SD) serum calcium level in those cases was 2.78 (+/- 0.137) mmol/L. The majority of cases (67.6%) had a mild rise in the calcium level that remained below 2.8 mmol/L but 35% had a level that ranged between 2.8 and 3.0 mmol/L. Only 2.4% had serum level higher than 3.0 mmol/L, which could explain the predominant absence of hypercalcemia-related symptoms. Hypercalcemia was more common in patients older than 50 years (P<0.05), but this did not correlate with the extent of the tuberculosis shown on radiological evaluation. Spontaneous return to normocalcemia occurred in all 42 patients who underwent serial assessments of their serum calcium concentration, 6 to 8 weeks after the start of chemotherapy. Saudi Arabia is known to have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, but none of our patients were immobilized or had received vitamin D supplements or multivitamins. This supports the view that vitamin D intake does not play a major role in inducing hypercalcemia in cases of active pulmonary tuberculosis, as has been suspected.

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