What is calcification?

Calcification is a gradual accumulation of calcium in an area of your body tissue. Most of the calcium absorbed by your body ends up in your bones and teeth, where it is most needed. Excess calcium is usually dissolved in the bloodstream for excretion in the urine, but it is normal for a certain amount to collect in an area of the body tissues; this collection of calcium then hardens the tissue.

Calcification can be the body’s protective response to injury, as well as part of a natural inflammatory reaction to infection, trauma, or autoimmune disorders. Also, tumors (cancerous or noncancerous) can result in calcification within the tumor tissue.

Calcification becomes a problem when its location, shape or size interferes with the organ function, such as calcifications that harden and block blood vessels in the heart, brain and kidney. For example, with advancing age both the aortic and mitral valves can thicken and develop calcification deposits. This can lead to decreased efficiency in the heart’s pumping ability. Calcifications that are apparent on mammograms may signal the presence of breast cancer, or they may occur with benign breast disease.

Sometimes blood calcium levels become abnormal, signaling the presence of a metabolic disorder in which your body’s ability to use or regulate the level of calcium is compromised.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as severe headache, severe bone pain, or sudden abdominal, pelvic, or lower back pain.

Seek prompt medical care for serious symptoms, such as bony deformities; depression; difficulty with memory; irritability and mood changes; loss of vision or changes in vision; muscle twitching, spasms or seizures; nausea with or without vomiting; or signs of dementia. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for a calcium metabolism disorder but symptoms recur or persist.


What are the symptoms of calcification?

Calcification often produces no symptoms. Instead, calcification is most frequently discovered on X-rays, including mammograms, for example. Some calcification is normal, but even disease-related calcification may not cause symptoms that you will detect.

You may, however, feel the effects of the underlying disorder or process that results in calcification. These symptoms will depe... Read more about calcificationsymptoms


What causes calcification?

Calcifications can be caused by inflammation or elevated levels of blood calcium, known as hypercalcemia. Calcification can be part of a normal healing response to musculoskeletal injuries. Calcifications are often found in arteries affected by arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), in benign and malignant breast processes, at sites of bone or cartilage injury, and sometimes within cance... Read more about calcificationcauses


How is calcification treated?

Calcification is generally not treatable and cannot be reversed. However, calcific band keratopathy, a calcification of the cornea of the eye, can be treated. In addition, disorders that are complications of or associated with calcification are often very treatable. Treatments vary depending on the calcium metabolism disorder itself.

What are the potential complications of... Read more about calcificationtreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation