Milk-alkali-induced pancreatitis in a chronically hypocalcemic patient with digeorge syndrome

Nicholas J. Daniel, Michael C. Wadman, Chad E. Branecki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background Pancreatitis is a common diagnosis in the emergency department (ED), and milk-alkali syndrome (MAS) is an uncommon etiology for pancreatitis. MAS is caused by increased calcium and alkali ingestion, causing hypercalcemia accompanied by metabolic alkalosis and renal failure. Once considered rare, MAS is an increasingly common cause of hypercalcemia. Awareness of the resurgence of this syndrome is important for emergency physicians when recalling the causes of renal failure and pancreatitis. We present a case of pancreatitis and acute renal failure (ARF) in a chronically hypocalcemic DiGeorge syndrome patient, resulting from hypercalcemia secondary to excessive ingestion of calcium carbonate tablets. Case Report A patient with DiGeorge syndrome and chronic abdominal pain due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) presented to our ED for severe abdominal pain. He reported nausea and vomiting, as well as epigastric pain that seemed worse than his typical pain. Laboratory evaluation revealed pancreatitis and ARF, although the patient had no prior history of these conditions. Upon further questioning, his mother divulged that the patient had been taking large quantities of calcium carbonate tablets for his worsening GERD symptoms. The patient was admitted to the intensive care unit where his pancreatitis and ARF eventually resolved as his calcium levels returned to his baseline. Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This? MAS is a relatively uncommon diagnosis, but can lead to serious sequelae such as pancreatitis and ARF. Questioning the patient about calcium ingestion is an important facet to the diagnosis and work-up of pancreatitis and ARF. Recognition of this etiology can improve patient outcomes and prevent recurrences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e63-e66
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • DiGeorge syndrome
  • acute renal failure
  • calcium carbonate
  • hypercalcemia
  • hypocalcemia
  • milk-alkali syndrome
  • pancreatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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