Nephrocalcinosis is a disorder that occurs when too much calcium is deposited in the kidneys. It commonly occurs in premature infants. Individuals may not have symptoms or may have symptoms related to the condition causing nephrocalcinosis. If kidney stones are present, symptoms may include blood in the urine, fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, and severe pain in the belly area, sides of the back (flank), groin, or testicles. Later symptoms may be associated with chronic kidney failure. It may be caused by use of certain medications or supplements, infection, or any condition that leads to high levels of calcium in the blood or urine including hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis, Alport syndrome, Bartter syndrome, and a variety of other conditions. Some of the underlying disorders that can cause nephrocalcinosis are genetic, with the inheritance pattern depending on the specific disorder. Treatment differs depending on the cause of nephrocalcinosis and often aims to prevent more calcium from being deposited in the kidneys.
Last updated: 4/17/2017
What causes nephrocalcinosis?
Nephrocalcinosis may be caused by a variety of things, including underlying disorders or conditions, medications or supplements, and infections. Causes may include:
Nephrocalcinosis may have a variety of causes, including underlying disorders, certain medications and supplements, and infections. Nephrocalcinosis itself is not inherited. However, the condition causing nephrocalcinosis in an individual may be inherited. Some inherited conditions that may be associated with nephrocalcinosis include:
Treatment of nephrocalcinosis includes treating the underlying condition causing nephrocalcinosis, if it is known. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and prevent more calcium from being deposited in the kidneys. Measures are usually taken to reduce abnormal levels of calcium, phosphate, and oxalate in the blood. Medications that cause calcium loss are typically stopped.
Treatment of hypercalcemia (increased calcium levels in the blood) and hypercalcemic nephropathy typically includes adequate hydration by isotonic sodium chloride (normal saline) solution to reverse hypercalcemia and protect the kidneys. Treatment of macroscopic nephrocalcinosis (calcium deposition that is visible without magnification) may include thiazide diuretics and dietary salt restriction, potassium and magnesium supplementation, and citrate supplementation in idiopathic hypercalciuria (of unknown cause) and in distal renal tubular acidosis. Lessening of nephrocalcinosis may occur over time, but in many cases, such as when it results from primary hyperoxaluria or distal renal tubular acidosis, nephrocalcinosis is largely irreversible. Therefore, early detection and treatment are important.
Individuals interested in learning about treatment options for themselves should speak with their health care provider or a nephrologist.
Last updated: 4/17/2017
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