The parathyroid glands, situated in the neck, secretes parathyroid hormone (PTH) which maintains the calcium level in the blood. Most people have four parathyroid glands, which are behind the thyroid gland. However, the number of glands and their position can vary. Calcium is important so that brain, nerves and bones all work properly. [Parathyroid gland] When a gland becomes over active and produces more parathyroid hormone it raises the calcium level in the blood (primary hyperparathyroidism). As a result calcium is diverted from the bones into the blood and excreted in the urine. Hence bones become brittle with increased risk of fractures and there is a higher risk of forming kidney stones. If the blood calcium level is raised substantially it may cause vomiting, collapse and heart problems.
Primary hyperparathyroidism can be diagnosed easily with a simple blood test. Your general practitioner will refer you either to see an endocrinologist or an endocrine surgeon.
Further tests will be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and also to locate the abnormal gland.
Treatment for hyperparathyroidism is an operation to remove the abnormal gland as there is no effective long term medical treatment for this condition.
We perform a minimally invasive parathyroidectomy under a short general anaesthetic. The operation involves a 2 cm incision along a skin crease of the neck and usually takes less than 45 minutes. The wound is closed with glue to avoid any marks on the skin from stitches. Most patients are able to eat normally after a few hours and are home within 24 hours.
A detailed information sheet regarding the operation will be provided prior to the operation.
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