Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Serum ionised calcium concentration: measurement versus calculation.

Br Med J 1978; 1 doi: (Published 29 April 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;1:1103

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  1. S C Conceicao,
  2. D Weightman,
  3. P A Smith,
  4. J Luno,
  5. M K Ward,
  6. D N Kerr


    Four hundred and eighteen measurements of serum ionised calcium, total calcium, and protein concentrations were made from 47 normal volunteers, 104 patients with chronic renal failure (33 being treated conservatively and 71 with regular haemodialysis), and 83 renal transplant recipients. The serum ionised calcium concentration was measured with an Orion SS-20 meter and calculated from the total serum calcium and protein concentrations by using three formulae and a nomogram. In the normal subjects and patients undergoing regular haemodialysis, whose serum calcium concentrations were in or near the normal range, three of the calculations gave results similar to those obtained by direct measurement. In patients with conservatively treated chronic renal failure and those who had received renal transplants, however, there was poor aggrement between the methods. When patients with hypercalcaemia and hypocalcaemia from all the groups were considered separately there was again poor agreement between calculated and measured concentrations of serum ionised calcium. Of the patients whose measured concentrations of serum ionised calcium were high, 69-76% were classified as normal by the four indirect methods. We conclude that calculation of the serum ionised calcium concentrations is not an adequate substitute for direct measurement.