James K. Bredenkamp, MD, FACS
Dr. Bredenkamp recieved his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He then went on to serve a six year residency at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine in the department of Surgery.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What are the parathyroid glands?
- What is a parathyroidectomy?
- What is hyperparathyroidism?
- What causes hyperparathyroidism?
- When is a parathyroidectomy necessary and how is it performed?
- What are the risks of parathyroidectomy?
- What are the possible complications of parathyroidectomy?
- What else do you need to know before parathyroidectomy?
- What about care after parathyroidectomy?
- When should I contact the doctor?
Parathyroidectomy is the removal of one or more of the parathyroid glands, and it is used to treat hyperparathyroidism.
Hyperparathyroidism is a condition in which the parathyroid glands produce too much PTH. If there is too much PTH, calcium is removed from the bones and goes into the blood, and there is increased absorption of calcium from the intestine into the blood. This results in increased levels of calcium in the blood and an excess of calcium in the urine. (If there is too little PTH, the blood calcium level can fall to dangerously low levels.) In more serious cases, the bone density will diminish and kidney stones can form. Other non-specific symptoms of hyperparathyroidism include depression, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Every effort is made to medically treat or control these conditions prior to surgery. These efforts include avoiding calcium rich foods, proper hydration (intake of fluids), and medications to avoid osteoporosis.
There are two types of hyperparathyroidism, primary and secondary. The most common disorder of the parathyroid glands and one that causes primary hyperparathyroidism, is a small, tumor called a parathyroid adenoma. A parathyroid adenoma is a benign condition in which one parathyroid gland increases in size and produces PTH in excess. (As opposed to parathyroid adenoma, it should be noted that malignant tumors of the parathyroid glands, that is, cancer, is very rare.) In most situations patients are unaware of the adenoma, and they are found when routine blood test results show an elevated blood calcium and PTH level. Less commonly, primary hyperparathyroidism may be caused by overactivity of all of the parathyroid glands, referred to as parathyroid hyperplasia.
With secondary hyperparathyroidism, the secretion of PTH is caused by a nonparathyroid disease, usually kidney failure.
Find out what women really need.