These are only general guidelines and not meant to replace instructions from a physician. Please talk with your physician about your specific condition.
The parathyroid glands are four small glands, typically located behind the thyroid gland in your neck. These glands secrete parathyroid hormone, which helps to regulate your body’s levels of calcium and phosphorus. Hyperparathyroidism occurs when one or more parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone. This may cause kidney stones (excess calcium is excreted in the urine), osteoporosis (bone density loss as calcium is removed from the bones by the excess hormone) and occasionally depression or other psychiatric conditions. Surgery is indicated to reverse and prevent the complications of hyperparathyroidism. Surgery is also indicated for cancer of the parathyroid glands.
If you are having surgery, you may be asked to:
Please ask your physician about any additional steps you should take before your surgery. Your surgeon may request additional imaging studies to attempt to localize the responsible gland prior to surgery.
Surgery for hyperparathyroidism is done under general anesthesia through an incision at the base of your neck. It may be possible to perform this operation through a minimally invasive incision. During the operation, your parathyroid hormone levels will be monitored to determine that the responsible gland is removed. If all four of your parathyroid glands are overactive, your surgeon will typically remove 3 ½ glands. The remaining portion of the gland is then either left in place or moved to a location in your arm or neck to attempt to normalize the level of parathyroid hormone production. There is some variation in the location of the parathyroid glands that may require a longer incision and a longer operation to search for a gland if it is located in an unusual position.
If you have been diagnosed with parathyroid cancer, you most likely will be referred to an oncologist for follow-up after your surgery.
If you have additional questions, please contact us at 763.780.6699.