The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized glands. They are located next to the thyroid gland in the neck. The glands send out the parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH helps to control the level of calcium in the blood.
Hypoparathyroidism is when the glands do not send out enough PTH. This causes low levels of calcium in the blood. Low blood calcium is known as hypocalcemia.
Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands: Posterior (Back) View
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Hypoparathyroidism may be caused by:
The exact cause is not always found.
Things that may increase the chance of hypoparathyroidism include:
Hypoparathyroidism does not always cause symptoms. If symptoms do develop, they may include:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
Blood and urine tests will be done. They can show PTH and calcium levels.
Treatment options include the following:
Calcium and vitamin D is often needed. They are often taken as pills. Injections of calcium may be needed if symptoms are severe.
Recombinant human parathyroid hormone may be used. It will fill in the missing PTH. It may be given if other treatment causes high calcium in blood and urine.
There are no current steps on how to prevent hypoparathyroidism.
The parathyroid glands can be damaged during thyroid surgery. The surgeon may remove the parathyroid glands and place them in a new spot in neck or arm. This may prevent damage.
Hypoparathyroidism Association, Inc.
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Canadian Society of Endocrinology & Metabolism
Brandi ML, Bilezikian JP, Shoback D, et al. Management of Hypoparathyroidism: Summary Statement and Guidelines. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Jun;101(6):2273-83
Hypoparathyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114796/Hypoparathyroidism . Updated March 13, 2017. Accessed December 31, 2019.
Hypoparathyroidism. National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at:
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Updated April 2, 2014. Accessed December 31, 2019.
Moffett JM, Suliburk J. Parathyroid autotransplantation. Endocr Pract. 2011;17 Suppl 1:83-89.
Last reviewed December 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 12/31/2019