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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1993 Mar;74(3):316-9.

Successful treatment of immobilization hypercalcemia using calcitonin and etidronate.

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  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.


Hypercalcemia of immobilization may present in patients with spinal cord injury, multiple fractures, or Landry-Guillain-Barre Syndrome. It is attributed to an increase in bone resorption and diminished bone formation characterized clinically by elevated serum calcium levels, hypercalciuria, increased risk of urinary lithiasis, and renal failure. Traditional treatment methods can interfere with the intensive level of therapy provided in the comprehensive rehabilitation program. Other treatments, less disruptive of the rehabilitation milieu, are possible. Reported are six patients with hypercalcemia of immobilization who were successfully treated with combination therapy of salmon calcitonin and sodium etidronate. The patients developed hypercalcemia an average of 69 days after the onset of illness. Serum calcium levels dropped an average of 2.8mg/dL (12.3mg/dL, SD 1.33 to 9.5mg/dL, SD 0.42) within eight days after initiation of treatment. In two patients, 24 hour urine excretions of calcium decreased by 414 and 210mg/day, respectively. All patients had a reduction in serum calcium levels noted within two days of treatment, and a normal serum calcium levels within one week. Patients were usually changed to a single medication maintenance regimen, sodium etidronate, within a few days. Full therapies in the treatment gyms were given to all patients within a day of initiation of the combined treatment. These two drugs appear to have a rapid and combined effect on the treatment of hypercalcemia of immobilization, and allow full participation in a comprehensive rehabilitation program.

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