Renal Osteodystrophy: Causes and Risk Factors

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Renal osteodystrophy is a bone disorder that those with kidney disease and the majority of patients who are undergoing dialysis may often suffer from. This disease is caused when the amounts of phosphorus and calcium in the blood stream are not adequately maintained. When this occurs, hormone imbalance in the bone ensues and the effects are often crippling.

What Causes This Disorder?

The kidneys function in maintaining phosphorus and calcium, as well as activating Vitamin D. When kidney disease and/or failure take place, levels of hormones and minerals become disturbed. As a result, parathyroid hormone, commonly referred to as PTH, secretion may drastically increase. PTH works directly with calcitriol, a hormone secreted by the kidneys, to maintain homeostasis of blood calcium levels. The main activity of calcitriol, which is derived from vitamin D, is to help the body absorb dietary calcium. When PTH increases, not only do the kidneys stop secretion of this hormone, but calcium is then absorbed from the bones.

Know Your Risks

As previously mentioned, those who must have dialysis or suffer from kidney disease are the most at risk for developing renal osteodystrophy. However, patients with diabetes mellitus are also at an increased risk for this renal disorder. Older individuals and post menopausal women may also fall prey to this bone disease. This is because occurence rates are more prevalent among patients who already exhibit elevated risk factors for osteoperosis. However, this particular type of osteodystrophy is not limited to adults. Children can also develop the disorder under some of the same risk factors.

Knowing the causes and risks of renal osteodystrophy is of high importance, as prevention may be key in some individuals. Early detection and a combination of medications and/or dietary changes can help decrease the incidence rate. The patient should consult his or her physician to discuss possible treatment if they believe they are at risk for developing this disorder.


Chronic Kidney Disease-Mineral and Bone Disorder. Mary Leonard, M.D., University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, and Sharon Moe, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis. NIH Publication No. 09–4630. February 2009. Viewed 18, December 2009.

Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, Vol 13, Issue 90003 51-56, Copyright © 1998 by Oxford University Press. Viewed 18, December 2009.