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A parathyroidectomy is a surgery to remove parathyroid glands. There are 4 parathyroid glands located in the neck. The glands make a hormone that balance the level of calcium in the blood.
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The surgery is done to remove abnormal parathyroid glands. The glands can be overactive, or abnormal due to cancer or for other reasons.
This option is most often done if only 1 gland needs to be removed. This type of surgery uses smaller incisions. Recovery is often faster. If a large amount of tissue needs to be removed, an open surgery may be needed.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Possible complications may include:
Talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor will:
General anesthesia is used most often. You will sleep through the surgery.
Local anesthesia may be used for smaller surgeries. The area will be numb but you will be awake. You may be given other medicine to help you relax.
There are different types of minimally invasive surgeries that may be used, such as:
A small cut will be made in the neck. A small tube with a tiny camera will be passed through the opening. The images from the camera will be sent to a TV monitors so the doctor can see the glands. Other small tools will be passed through the tube to remove the gland. The cut will be closed with stitches or special glue.
A radioactive item will be injected into your body. The abnormal gland will soak it up, the healthy glands will not. A small cut will be made in the neck. A small probe will be inserted. The probe will read the signals from the abnormal gland. This will help the doctor find the abnormal gland. Other small tools will be passed through the tube. The gland will be removed. The cut will then be closed with stitches or special glue.
Between 30 minutes and 1-2 hours (depending on the type of surgery)
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. The area will be painful after surgery. Medicine will help to manage discomfort.
You may need to stay in the hospital for a day or you may be able to leave the same day. You may need a longer stay if there are any problems.
After your surgery, the care team will:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
You will need to take it easy for a few days. Avoid strenuous activities.
You may experience a drop in calcium levels until the remaining glands adjust. A calcium supplement may be recommended until the glands recover.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Endocrine Diseases—The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Farndon JR. Surgical treatment: Evidence-based and problem-oriented. Postoperative complications of parathyroidectomy. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6967. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Parathyroid surgery. American Association of Endocrine Surgeons website. Available at: http://endocrinediseases.org/parathyroid/surgery_overview.shtml. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Parathyroidectomy: minimally invasive (focused). University of California, Los Angeles Endocrine Surgery website. Available at: http://endocrinesurgery.ucla.edu/surgery_mip.html. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Sadik KW, Kell M, Gorey T. Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy using surgical sonography. Int J Med Sci. 2011;8(4):283-286. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085174/.
6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed June 2018 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 12/28/2018