Hypercalcaemia DDx

Causes of HYPERcalcaemia

  • Nature: Bones, stones, groans and psychic moans
  • Usually associated with increased calcium release form bones and impaired renal removal and malignancy
  • Causes: >90% from Malignancy and Hyperparathyroidism
    • Basically: Tumour, increased PTH and increased Vitamin D
  1. Bone Malignancy
    • breast, lung, thyroid, kidney, prostate, myeloma, leukaemia
    • lymphoma, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s
    • Paget’s (non-malignant increased bone turnover)
  2. Hyperparathyroidism
    • Normally responds to decreased Ca and increases bone turnover
  3. Other
    • endocrine (Addison’s, phaeochromocytoma, hyperthyroidism)
    • dehydration
    • respiratory (Sarcoidosis, TB)
    • drugs (lithium, thiazides, Vitamin D)
  4. Fictitious
    • Not corrected level for albumin
    • Prolonged cuff time

Clinical symptoms

  • Stones (Renal colic and hypercalcaemic stones)
  • Bones (Increased osteolysis and fractures)
  • Psychic moans (Depression, confusion, hallucinations and coma)
  • Abdominal groans (Anorexia, N, V, constipation, PUD, pancreatitis)
  • Other
    • Muscle weakness, malaise, hyporeflexia
    • Confusion, apathy, decreased memory
    • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (Polyuria and polydipsia)


Cardiac Arrhythmia and ECG changes

  • QT shortening (Prolonged with low K, Ca, Mg)
  • Prolonged PR
  • Widened QRS
  • Notched QRS with increased voltage
  • AV block…..CHB…..cardiac arrest


Key to treatment is volume expansion

  • Promote urinary excretion(if CVS and renal function adequate)
    • Forced saline Diuresis (plus magnesium and potassium) – 300-500ml N saline/hr
    • This replaces lost fluid and forces diuresis
    • Must monitor or replace K and Mg as these will be lost in the urine along with the calcium
    • NOTE do not give THIAZIDES, they will worsen condition
      • Treatment with FRUSEMIDE is controversial as it promotes Calcium bone reuptake
  • Haemodialysis
    • Treatment of choice in CVS or renal compromise
  • Calcitonin/EDTA bisphosphonates
    • Reduce bone resorption and reduce GIT absorption of Calcium
    • Effect in 48 hours and last 15 days

CCC Differential Diagnosis Series


Anosmia, Ataxia, Blepharospasm, Bulbar and Pseudobulbar palsy, Central Pontine Myelinosis, Cerebellar Disease, Chorea, Cranial nerve lesions, Dementia, Dystonia, Exophthalmos, Eye trauma, Facial twitches, Fixed dilated pupil, Horner syndrome, Loss of vision, Meningism, Movement disorders, Optic disc abnormality, Parkinsonism, Peripheral neuropathy, Radiculopathy, Red eye, Retinal Haemorrhage, Seizures, Sudden severe headache, Tremor, Tunnel vision


Bronchial breath sounds, Bronchiectasis, High airway pressures, Massive haemoptysis, Sore throat, Tracheal displacement


Atrial Fibrillation, Bradycardia, Cardiac Failure, Chest Pain, Murmurs, Post-resuscitation syndrome, Pulseless Electrical Activity (PEA), Pulsus Paradoxus, Shock, Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), Tachycardia, VT and VF, SVC Obstruction


Abdominal distension, Abdominal mass, Abdominal pain, Asterixis, Dysphagia, Hepatomegaly, Hepatosplenomegaly, Large bowel obstruction, Liver palpation abnormalities, Lower GI haemorrhage, Malabsorption, Medical causes of abdominal pain, Rectal mass, Small bowel obstruction, Upper GI Haemorrhage


Genital ulcers, Groin lump, Scrotal mass, Urine colour, Urine Odour, Urine transparency


Arthritis, Shoulder pain, Wasting of the small muscles of the hand


Palmar erythema, Serious skin signs in sick patients, Thickened Tethered Skin, Leg ulcers, Skin Tumour, Acanthosis Nigricans


Diabetes Insipidus, Diffuse Goitre, Gynaecomastia, Hirsutism, Hypoglycaemia, SIADH, Weight Loss




Floppy infant 


Anaphylaxis, Autoimmune associated diseases, Clubbing, Parotid Swelling, Splinter haemorrhages, Toxic agents and abnormal vitals, Toxicological causes of cardiac arrest


CHEST: Atelectasis, Hilar adenopathy, Hilar enlargement on CXR, Honeycomb lung, Increased interstitial markings, Mediastinal widening on mobile CXR, Pulmonary fibrosis, Pseudoinfiltrates on CXR, Pulmonary opacities on CXR,
Gas on abdominal X-ray, Kidney mass,
Intracranial calcification, Intracranial structures with contrastVentriculomegaly,
OTHER: Pseudofracture on X-Ray


LOW: Anaemia, Hypocalcaemia, hypochloraemia, Hypomagnesaemia

HIGH: Bilirubin and Jaundice, HyperammonaemiaHypercalcaemia, Hyperchloraemia, Hyperkalaemia, Hypermagnesaemia

ACID BASE: Acid base disorders, Resp. acidosis, Resp. alkalosis,

Creatinine, CRP, Dipstick Urinalysis, Laboratory Urinalysis, Liver function tests (LFTs), Pleural fluid analysis, Urea, Urea Creatinine Ratio, Uric acid, Urinalysis, Urine Electrolytes

CCC 700 6

Critical Care


Physician in training. German translator and lover of medical history.

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.