Intravenous versus oral vitamin d therapy in dialysis patients: what is the question?

Am J Kidney Dis. 2001 Nov;38(5 Suppl 5):S41-4. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.2001.28108.


The debate regarding the administration of vitamin D (parenteral versus pulse oral) in dialysis patients has centered on the efficacy of parathyroid hormone (PTH) suppression while ignoring other questions related to complications and compliance. Past studies looking at efficacy showed no differences during short-term treatment, although the small number of patients studied reduces the significance of these findings. Long-term studies with larger populations have shown that parenteral calcitriol is more effective than pulse oral calcitriol in suppressing PTH. When considering the questions of complications and compliance the current literature demonstrates that parenteral vitamin D therapy is associated with fewer episodes of hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia and that patients receiving pulse oral calcitriol require more phosphate binders. Because of the documented high noncompliance rate with oral medications in the dialysis population, parenterally administered vitamin D is expected to more completely suppress PTH long term and result in fewer parathyroidectomies. Based on these considerations it is suggested that parenteral vitamin D analogs are superior to pulse oral calcitriol for the long-term control of hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / chemically induced
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / chemically induced
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / prevention & control*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Parathyroid Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Phosphorus / blood
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / adverse effects


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • Phosphorus