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Calcinosis cutis is a skin disease of dogs characterized by dystrophic calcium deposition in the dermis and subcutis.
This deposition of calcium is thought to be due to phase transformation of calcium and phosphate ions from solution into crystalline aggregate with deposition in matrices of dermal collagen and elastin. Calcinosis cutis (or cutaneous calcification) is a type of calcinosis wherein calcium deposits form in the skin. A variety of factors can result in this condition.
Two forms of calcium deposition in skin are recognized:
- Calcinosis circumscripta - idiopathic, dystrophic (following tissue damage), metastatic (high serum calcium or phosphate) or iatrogenic (use of parenteral calcium or other drugs) mineralization characterized by localized deposition of calcium salts in soft tissues, affecting bony prominences, footpads or tongue, often seen in young (under 2 years of age) large breed dogs - may developed into large subcutaneous masses
- Calcinosis cutis - disseminated calcium deposition - secondary to dystrophic or metastatic causes, often disseminated across the body rather than localized
Other causes of cutaneous calcium deposition include:
- Prolonged glucocorticoid therapy
- Metastatic calcinosis associated with chronic renal disease.
- Fungal infections
- Leptospira spp
- Secondary to subcutaneous injection of calcium gluconate for treatment of hypoparathyroidism
- Vitamin D toxicosis
Clinically, these lesions appear on the skin as non-pruritic firm red to white plaques with hyperproliferative margins, and may appear on the head, ears, dorsal midline, neck, ventral abdomen, internal thigh surface, inguinal areas and pads. Alopecia and scurfy skin may be associated with these lesions and secondary pododermatitis may also develop.
Histologically, these lesions appear as areas of deposition of dense, amorphous granular basophilic calcium salts separated by thin fibrous connective tissue containing mild inflammation.
There is no specific treatment for this condition and the underlying disease process must be primarily addressed to resolve this condition, although the use of oral charcoal adsorbents has been shown to ameliorate the condition once the underlying condition has been treated.
- Dr R. Hilton
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