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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2009 Oct;24(10):2990-3. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfp365. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

Calcium balance in haemodialysis--do not lower the dialysate calcium concentration too much (con part).

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Inserm U845, Hôpital Necker, Université Paris V, Paris, France.


The debate on the most adequate dialysate calcium concentration for intermittent haemodialysis therapy is ongoing. There is probably no one optimal concentration. In general, one would like to maintain a neutral calcium balance in adult haemodialysis patients. However, a slightly negative balance may be preferable to avoid soft-tissue calcium accumulation in face of net calcium loss from the bone with ageing. The problem with measurements of calcium balance is that they are generally imprecise, as are estimations of total body calcium and its distribution in various compartments, unless done with labour-intensive methods and great care. The choice of the dialysate calcium will depend on several factors, including parathyroid and vitamin D status, type and severity of concomitant bone disease, presence or absence of arterial calcification, dietary habits, drug treatment and dialysis modality. Ideally the dialysate calcium would be adapted to each patient's needs. This is not feasible, however, in most dialysis settings and neither is it cost-effective. From a practical point of view, a relatively high dialysate calcium concentration in the range of of 1.50-1.75 mmol/L (3.0-3.5 mEq/L) should probably be preferred in haemodialysis patients with high serum PTH levels who are not prescribed calcium-based phosphate binders or high doses of active vitamin D sterols, and in those who are receiving a calcimimetic. In those who are treated with high doses of calcium-based binders and/or active vitamin D derivatives or who have a very low serum PTH level, the optimal dialysate calcium concentration is probably lower, in the range of 1.25-1.50 mmol/L (2.50-3.0 mEq/L). In the present pro/con debate about the optimal dialysate calcium concentration used for the haemodialysis session, we have accepted to defend the viewpoint that a low calcium concentration may do more harm than benefit in many patients. This viewpoint is opposite to that taken by Gotch. He argues that since calcitriol and other active vitamin D derivatives have become available virtually all haemodialysis patients are in positive calcium balance. We would like to take issue with this statement and warn against the indiscriminate use of a low calcium dialysate in all patients receiving haemodialysis therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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