Parathyroid glands are small endocrine glands located in the neck. Most people have four parathyroid glands located behind the thyroid gland. Although the parathyroid glands are close to the thyroid glands and have a similar name, their function is unrelated to the thyroid. Parathyroid glands control the amount of calcium in your blood and bones. The single major disease of parathyroid glands is over-activity, creating an excess of hormones and causing a calcium imbalance.
Having high calcium in your blood is more dangerous than having high cholesterol. High calcium increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, due to the buildup of calcium in your arteries.
An excess of parathyroid hormone in the bloodstream due to over activity of one or more of the body’s four parathyroid glands. This condition occurs when a parathyroid gland grows into a benign tumour.
The result of low levels of calcium in the body, your parathyroid glands overwork to compensate for the loss of calcium. This condition can be caused by severe calcium deficiency, severe Vitamin D deficiency, or chronic kidney failure.
What to Expect
Blood tests will be performed to check the calcium level and parathyroid hormone level in your body. Your doctor may repeat the test to confirm the results after a period of fasting (no eating). If you calcium level is high a number of additional diagnostics tests will be performed to rule out possible secondary causes.
MRI, CT, SPECT, or Ultrasound may be used to identify the enlarged parathyroid gland. Additional tests include:
- Bone Mineral Density – X-ray to measure calcium in your bones.
- Urine test – A 24 hour collection of urine to provide information about your kidney functions.
- Kidney Imaging – X-ray or CT scan to determine the presence of kidney stones or other kidney abnormalities.
Parathyroid surgery (also known as parathyroidectomy) is a procedure that uses a 6 inch incision. The surgery takes 1.5 hours to perform and requires a one night overnight stay for recovery. There are multiple parathyroid surgeries. Your surgeon will discuss the different options and recommend the best treatment for you.
Why choose us for Parathyroid Surgery?
Our Otolaryngologist (Head and Neck Surgeons) have extensive experience in head and neck surgery are internationally recognized experts in the surgical treatment of thyroid and parathyroid disease. Our state-of-the art health care facility employs the safest surgical techniques, using only the most advanced medical technology.
If you are ready to discuss your surgery needs with our board certified surgeons, request a consultation today. During your consultation your patient care adviser will discuss:
- Your medical history
- Pre and post-operative care
- Potential risks and complications
Parathyroid Surgery FAQ
When is surgery an option?
Surgery is the only curative option for primary hyperparathyroidism. It is recommended in almost all cases of symptomatic hyperparathyroidism and most cases of asymptomatic hyperparathyroidism.
Why did my parathyroid gland grow into a tumour?
Each parathyroid gland is made up of 80,000 parathyroid cells. Occasionally one of these cells will start reproducing itself uncontrollably, creating an oversized gland that develops into a tumour.
Do I have cancer?
In most cases tumours are benign. Hyperparathyroidism is a hormonal problem. In very rare cases, a cancerous tumour is the cause of primary hyperparathyroidism.