March 1975

Immobilization Hypercalcemic Crisis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, sections of orthopedic surgery and general surgery, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Arch Surg. 1975;110(3):321-323. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1975.01360090091018

Profound hypercalcemia associated with immobilization is rare. Hypercalcemic crisis occurring as a result of immobilization in which there was not a coexisting, contributing medical condition has not, to our knowledge, been reported previously.

Failure to consider hypercalcemia as the source of progressive anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and irritability resulted in a respiratory arrest and nearly fatal outcome in the case of a 13-year-old boy one month after a simple femoral fracture.

Therapy consisting of the intravenous administration of fluids and corticosteroids was successful in lowering the serum calcium level until mobilization could be accomplished. Review of previously reported cases emphasizes the difficulty in recognition and diagnosis of this unusual condition. Surgeons treating patients with fractures should be aware of this complication and familiar with its appropriate therapy.