Like the thyroid, the parathyroid is a group of neck glands (four total) that produces hormones essential to regulating the body’s functions – in this case, the amount of calcium in the blood. When the glands produce an overabundance of parathyroid hormone, the result is too much calcium, a condition known as hyperparathyroidism. This is often caused by an adenoma, a type of benign tumor. Minor cases may be dealt with medically, but parathyroid surgery is often recommended.
Whether to proceed with parathyroid surgery depends on a number of factors including age, how much calcium is in the blood and the extent of symptoms. The most common procedure for surgical removal of the parathyroid glands is a minimally invasive parathyroidectomy. The diseased glands are removed through a small slit in the neck. You will receive a general anesthetic, and the surgeon makes an incision in the neck to examine the glands and determine which ones require removal.
A follow-up visit is necessary to ensure calcium levels are under control. In some cases, additional surgeries may be needed.
All surgeries involve some degree of risk, such as bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Parathyroid surgery could cause injury to the thyroid gland and vocal cords or lead to breathing problems. In addition, you could be at risk for hypocalcemia, a condition in which calcium levels drop too low. Fortunately, this is easily treatable.
Hyperparathyroidism occurs when too much PTH is secreted into the bloodstream. This creates an imbalance of high calcium levels and low phosphorous levels. Symptoms include:
- Kidney stones
- Bone and joint pain
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of appetite
The cause may be linked to a benign tumor or enlarged parathyroid gland. Surgery is the preferred treatment for hyperparathyroidism.
When too little PTH is produced, calcium levels in the blood drop while phosphorous levels rise. This condition is known as hypoparathyroidism and causes:
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Muscle spasms
- Mood swings
- Memory loss
- Tingling sensations in the fingers, toes and lips.
Injury to the parathyroid glands, endocrine disorders and genetic conditions are the most common causes of hypoparathyroidism. Calcium carbonate and vitamin D supplements are given to restore the proper balance of calcium and phosphorous in the body.
Call South Valley Ear Nose & Throat at (801) 566-8304 for more information or to schedule an appointment.