What is Calciphylaxis?

Calciphylaxis is an uncommon, rare, serious, and fatal disorder that is characterized by:

  1. Calcification of the small blood vessels located within the fatty tissue and deeper layers of the skin.
  2. Blood clots formation.
  3. Death of skin cells due to too little blood flow.

Recent studies estimated that the incidence of calciphylaxis is around 3.5 new cases per 1000 patients per year among patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on chronic hemodialysis. While the cause of calciphylaxis is still unknown. It does not seem to be an immune type reaction. Taking into consideration that several factors were reported to increase the risk of Calciphylaxis development including:

  1. Female sex
  2. Obesity
  3. Elevated calcium-phosphate products
  4. Medications such as warfarin and vitamin D derivatives
  5. Diabetes mellitus.

There is no diagnostic test for calciphylaxis. The diagnosis is a clinical one and depends on clinical assessment of necrotic skin lesions that typically appear as:

  1. Dark bluish purple lesions and/or
  2. Completely black leathery lesions.

The suspected diagnosis can be supported by a skin biopsy. Until now prevention is the best available treatment option. Prevention could be attained through continuous control of phosphate and calcium balance in order to avoid the metabolic changes which may lead to calciphylaxis.