Symptomatic hypocalcemia and hypomagnesemia, both responsive to replenishment of magnesium, occur in chronic alcoholism,1 malabsorption,2 experimentally induced magnesium deficiency,3 primary magnesium deficiency,4 and severe malnutrition.3,5 The cause of hypocalcemia in these conditions is unknown. Postulated mechanisms include decreased secretion or defective synthesis of parathyroid hormone6,7 or peripheral resistance to parathyroid hormone.4,8
I will describe two patients with hypocalcemia and hypomagnesemia who also had tetany, incomplete distal renal tubular acidosis, and increased concentrations of serum parathyroid hormone, all of which conditions responded to magnesium replenishment.
In 1954, a female patient developed diarrhea and abdominal pain. She was found to have regional enteritis, and a portion of small bowel was resected. In 1962, another portion of small bowel was resected because of acute intestinal obstruction. Two months later, the patient developed tetany and hypocalcemia and was treated with orally and intravenously