what can be done about gravel produced by the kidneys? any promising research or *working* alternative treatments?
January 10, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

what can be done about kidney calcification?

My sister has a donated kidney for the past five years (from another family member.)

Because her body produces "calcification in the flesh of the kidney", her second kidney (the donated one) has only 10% of function, and is going to (it seems) be placed on dialysis again.

The doctor says that her case is extremely unique-- that if her body would produce stones, they could be removed, but because they are gravel-like, nothing can be done but getting another kidney donated.

I ask you, MeFi... is there any promising research or specific doctor that you would recommend that can help her?

if you want to respond off MeFi, you can email me jbtriver@gmail.com.

Thank you!!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (2 answers total)
What is the formal diagnosis? We have a description of the condition, but it's somewhat lacking in precision. Is it a specific form of vascular calcification? What is the name?

There are many underlying causes of vascular calcification that initiate the process by transforming vascular smooth muscle cells to a chondrocyte or osteoblast-like cell, including hyperphosphatemia, uremia, hyperglycemia, and other metabolites. This process is accelerated in a setting of high calcium, high phosphorus, and abnormal bone remodeling, raising the risk of vascular calcification in dialysis patients. In addition, deficiencies in circulating or locally produced inhibitors of calcification, or a relative absence of inhibitors for a given level of calcium or phosphorous, modulate calcification. As shown in Figure 1, this complex pathogenesis is still not completely understood and its prevention will no doubt require a multi-faceted approach. Importantly, differentiating what protects some patients, but not others, may ultimately offer the most important clues of all."

Depending on the exact diagnosis, one can then try systematically addressing possible causes, whether through diet, or medication. For example, even bone remodeling can be addressed with drugs that affect that (certain drugs for osteoporosis arrest or slow down bone remodeling), but all that should be done under the supervision of one physician who can then bring in various specialists.

On your own, you can and should explore PubMed - a practitioner may not have gone through a thorough search, and you can turn up some avenues, which you can then discuss with your doctor.
posted by VikingSword at 9:15 PM on January 10, 2012

VikingSword, from the way the question is worded, it sounds like the calcification is in the renal parenchyma, not in the vessels.

I think I found the term you are looking for, OP, on PubMed - try hunting around for information on "cortical nephrocalcinosis". I'm a doctor and I haven't heard of this before. Sounds rare. The articles that come up on PubMed make it look like it can be caused by a variety of causes, and it sounds poorly understood.

I would suggest finding a nephrologist at the best hospital you can get to, although my hopes are not high that they would have any solution other than telling her to get another transplant.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:08 PM on January 10, 2012

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