Osteomalacic dialysis osteodystrophy: Evidence for a water-borne aetiological agent, probably aluminium.
In patients maintained on regular haemodialysis in Newcastle upon Tyne the development of osteomalacia is substantially reduced when water used to prepare dialysate is deionised. After 1--4 years of dialysis, osteomalacia was evident in 15% of patients on deionised water in 70% of patients on softened water from the same source. The close association of dialysis encephalopathy and osteomalacia suggests a common aetiology. Both diseases occur in centres with a high tap-water aluminium content. Serum-aluminium concentrations were raised in patients undergoing regular haemodialysis in the Northern Region of England. Those using softened water had higher concentrations than those using deionised water. Patients on softened water who had encephalopathy or dementia had serum-aluminium concentrations similar to those of patients using the same water-supplies without symptoms of these diseases, but they had been treated for longer. The evidence that aluminium absorption from dialysate causes osteomalacia and encephalopathy is strong enough to justify the expense of treating water by deionisation, reverse osmosis, or both in centres where tap-water aluminium is high.
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