Calciphylaxis: Approach to Diagnosis and Management

Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2019 Nov;26(6):484-490. doi: 10.1053/j.ackd.2019.09.005.


Calciphylaxis is a rare disorder of poor prognosis that can lead to intense, painful lesions involving the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Although mostly described in dialysis patients, it can affect patients with normal kidney function. The diagnosis of calciphylaxis is complicated by the absence of a gold standard marker of disease such as a clear histopathological finding. Late diagnosis and advanced lesions can significantly shorten life expectancy. Calciphylaxis wounds can have a major influence on the quality of life of patients, usually due to the immense unbearable pain these patients suffer from. The management of calciphylaxis mainly comprises aggressive wound care and symptomatic management. Therapeutic options are few and far between and are limited to off-label uses. Recent understanding of the pathogenesis of lesions has enabled development of novel therapeutic options, some of which are being studied in clinical trials (sodium thiosulfate, vitamin K). Vascular calcification and thrombosis underlie development of these lesions and research has been aimed at studying drugs that counteract such processes. Future research is required to establish clear causal pathways and improve on the treatment options currently available to patients.

Keywords: Calcific uremic arteriolopathy; Calciphylaxis; SNF472; Sodium thiosulfate; Vitamin K.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calciphylaxis / complications
  • Calciphylaxis / diagnosis*
  • Calciphylaxis / therapy*
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Microvessels
  • Pain Management
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Thiosulfates / therapeutic use
  • Thrombophilia / drug therapy
  • Vascular Calcification / drug therapy*
  • Vascular Calcification / etiology
  • Vascular Calcification / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy


  • Chelating Agents
  • Thiosulfates
  • sodium thiosulfate