Hypercalcemia and Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus: Rare and Life-Threatening Effects of Lithium Intoxication

Arturo de Falco, Maria Lieto, Valentina Scarano, Daniele Spitaleri, Vincenzo Palma

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7175/cmi.v14i1.1461


Lithium is the most effective therapy for bipolar and schizoaffective disorders. Despite its efficacy, lithium has a narrow therapeutic index and adverse effects are frequent. Lithium intoxication (LI) generally affects brain, but less frequently can affect kidneys, thyroid, and parathyroid.

Here, we report the case of a patient with lithium neurotoxic effects complicated by parathyroid and renal adverse effects. The patient was a 52-year-old woman treated with lithium, who was recently diagnosed with hypercalcemia and hyperparathyroidism.

She was admitted for severe agitation, confusion, and diffuse tremor. Despite serum lithium and calcium normalization, laboratory tests revealed a life-threatening hypernatremia caused by nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI). Hemodialysis was started, but after the first treatment the patient died for cardiac arrest.

Neurological symptoms of LI may occur even if the dosage is close to the normal therapeutic range. Hypercalcemia and NDI are rare, but should be promptly diagnosed and treated. In case of poor clinical outcome, hemodialysis should be performed independently of lithium serum level.


Lithium Toxicity; Hypercalcemia; Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus; Hypernatremia

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