Mysterious calciphylaxis: wounds with eschar--to debride or not to debride?

Ostomy Wound Manage. 2004 Apr;50(4):64-6, 68-70; discussion 71.


Calciphylaxis is a confusing disease process that affects people with end-stage renal disease. The prognosis of this increasingly common condition is poor and mortality rates range from 60% to 80% related to wound infection, sepsis, and organ failure. Its presenting sign is skin necrosis related to calcification of the arteriole microvasculature. The disease is painful and debilitating, particularly due to the necrotic wounds. Aggressive wound care to prevent infection is vital when eschar does not protect the wound and drainage is present, but debridement is contraindicated for wounds covered with dry, noninfected eschars. The decision to debride is based on the patient's total clinical picture. Patients with calciphylaxis have poor healing potential due to ischemia and comorbidity factors such as diabetes mellitus, peripheral vascular disease, and obesity. The goal of care is prevention of infection and pain management. Some of the sensitizers and challengers responsible for the chemical imbalance leading to the arteriole calcification, as well as risk factors and clinical manifestations of calciphylaxis, are reviewed. A discussion of treatment focuses on wound care of stable necrotic ulcers and a case report illustrating the progression of calciphylaxis is presented.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calciphylaxis / etiology
  • Calciphylaxis / physiopathology*
  • Calciphylaxis / therapy
  • Contraindications
  • Debridement* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors