Metastatic calcification

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 30 Nov 2021

Metastatic calcification refers to a type of soft tissue calcification caused by elevated serum calcium salts.

Some consider the inclusion of the word "metastatic" in the name unfortunate as it implies that there is a cancerous component, which in the vast majority of cases is untrue.

Many patients are asymptomatic in terms of the effects of soft tissue calcification but suffer various symptoms from the underlying diseases that caused the process such as chronic renal failure.

Metastatic calcification is one of several types of soft tissue calcification from which it should be differentiated e.g. dystrophic or iatrogenic 1. Typical locations for metastatic calcification include the lungs (metastatic pulmonary calcification) and kidneys but the condition can also occur in the liver and heart.

The condition can result from a variety of diseases or disease-related processes:

Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902) 5 first described metastatic calcification in the 1850s 2,3 .

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