The parathyroid glands are responsible for maintaining calcium balance within your body. Most people have four parathyroid glands. They are usually very small and are located next to the thyroid gland. In primary hyperparathyroidism, one or more of these glands enlarges and produces too much hormone. This results in the blood calcium level rising too high. This also causes weakening of the bones due to loss of calcium from the bones. It may also cause kidney stones because of all the calcium being excreted in the urine. The elevated calcium may also cause blood vessel damage and damage to the kidneys and heart. People with this disease also often have excess fatigue, confusion, depression, and weakness.
The treatment of hyperparathyroidism is surgical. The goal is to remove the abnormal parathyroid glands. We use a minimally invasive technique, relying on ultrasound, sestamibi scanning and measurement of the parathyroid hormone level during surgery (intraoperative PTH monitoring). We also use radioactive guidance on occasion but don’t feel this is necessary routinely. Most patients go home the same day of operation and have incisions less than 1 inch in length. Some patients may require more extensive surgery depending on the ability to locate the abnormal glands and the extent of disease.
Although it is primarily written for medical professionals, Dr. Kim has written a chapter on this subject that is available on the internet at emedicine.com.
For appointments please call 919-966-9700
If you have questions you may contact us at Endocrine_Surgery@med.unc.edu