- Expertise and experience. Even though calciphylaxis is uncommon, Mayo Clinic doctors have the expertise and experience to diagnose and treat this disease.
- Multispecialty team. Calciphylaxis is a complicated disease that can affect different organs. Mayo's specialists in nephrology, dermatology, plastic surgery, endocrinology, infectious disease and other areas as needed work together to treat people with calciphylaxis.
- Cutting-edge treatment. Mayo Clinic doctors use a three-pronged approach to treat calciphylaxis that includes decreasing calcium accumulation, restoring blood flow and intensive wound treatment. Mayo Clinic dermatology pioneered the use of low-dose tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) to dissolve tiny blood clots in calciphylaxis.
Calciphylaxis is a serious condition in which abnormal amounts of calcium are deposited in the body, mainly in the small blood vessels that supply fat tissue (vascular calcification). The cause of calciphylaxis is unknown, but doctors believe that an imbalance in the metabolism of calcium causes calcium to be deposited in the smallest parts of the arteries (arterioles). This eventually leads to the formation of blood clots in the arterioles, depriving the fat and skin above it from oxygen and nourishment.
Calciphylaxis most commonly affects people who have end-stage kidney failure. Risk factors include:
- Long-term dialysis and sometimes kidney transplantation
- An imbalance of calcium, phosphorus and aluminum in the body
- Vitamin D therapy, which can increase the buildup of calcium and phosphorus
- Some medications, such as calcium-binding agents or corticosteroids
- An overproduction of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates the level of calcium and phosphorus in the body — a condition known as hyperparathyroidism
- Uremia, a toxic condition in which substances normally eliminated in the urine — such as calcium and phosphorus — build up in the body
Rarely, calciphylaxis occurs in people with no known kidney or calcium abnormalities for unknown reasons.
If you have this disease, you will often have:
- Deep, very painful lumps with open sores and brown crust that fail to heal — typically in skin areas with high fat content, such as the stomach and thigh, although they can occur anywhere
- Infections from wounds that don't heal
Complications of calciphylaxis include:
- Pain and ulceration
- Blood infections
- Death, usually due to infection and multiorgan failure
Typically, the outlook for people with calciphylaxis is not good, so early detection and treatment is very important.
Why choose Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks #1 for kidney disorders in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for kidney disorders, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for kidney disorders by U.S. News & World Report.
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At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.
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