Experimental and clinical endocrinology & diabetes : official journal, German Society of Endocrinology [and] German Diabetes Association

Dihydrotachysterol therapy for hypoparathyroidism: consequences of inadequate monitoring. Five cases and a review.

PMID 16025398


The half synthetic Vitamin D analogue dihydrotachysterol (DHT) is widely used for hypocalcaemic hypoparathyroidism following surgical removal of parathyroids. Such treatment generally initiated by surgeons right after surgery has to be continued in clinical practice. Unfortunately, the required careful monitoring of calcium metabolism is often lacking and as demonstrated may lead to life-threatening conditions. Here we report on five patients referred to our nephrology unit because of unknown impairment of renal function during therapy with DHT. All patients had clinical signs of hypercalcaemia. Since most symptoms are nonspecific they were not perceived by primary care physicians. In fact DHT treatment was continued for 4 - 50 years. In all cases calcium levels were determined after inadequate long intervals ranging from 3.08 to 4.97 mmol/l. Creatinine levels ranged from 277 to 365 micromol/l. All patients suffered from symptoms of severe hypercalcaemia, three of them needing intensive care unit treatment. All patients were treated effectively with a regimen consisting of intravenous saline, a loop diuretic, and application of bisphosphonates. As confirmed by renal biopsy persisting alleviation of renal function was due to calcifications. After discontinuation of DHT therapy patients were safely switched to shorter acting vitamin D derivates maintaining a normal calcium level. In comparison to short acting vitamin-D derivates hypercalcaemic episodes with DHT appear to last longer and may therefore occur with higher incidence. A future option could be the use of synthetic parathyroid hormone (s-PTH) recently shown to be safe and effective. Nevertheless a customized therapy and careful monitoring is indispensable in any case to prevent irreversible organ damage.