The dialysis encephalopathy syndrome (DES) consists of altered mental status, communication difficulty, seizures and myoclonus. It has been attributed to elevated serum aluminium (A1) levels. Two undialysed patients with chronic renal failure who presented with the characteristic syndrome are reported. The first, a 48 year old female, had used A1 containing phosphate binders for two years. Her serum A1 level was 25.34 mumol/L. Despite treatment with desferoximine and dialysis, she died. Necropsy revealed elevated A1 levels in the cerebral cortex (19 mcg/gm) and spongioform change in the outer three cortical layers. The second patient, a 46 year old woman, had a serum A1 of 8.70 mumol/L. She had never taken A1 containing phosphate binders but had taken several grams/day of citrate for at least six months. Treatment with haemodialysis and discontinuation of the citrate produced a resolution of symptoms and return of the A1 level to normal. During two years of haemodialysis there has been no recurrence.
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