A parathyroidectomy is a surgery to remove abnormal parathyroid glands. There are four parathyroid glands located in the neck. The glands make parathyroid hormone, which is used to control calcium levels in the blood.
Parathyroid Glands and Thyroid Glands (Back View)
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The surgery is done to remove one or more abnormal parathyroid glands. The glands can be abnormal due to cancer or for other reasons.
A minimally invasive approach is usually done if only one gland needs to be removed. If more than one gland needs to be removed or if the doctor needs to do additional surgery in the neck, she may use a conventional approach instead, which involves making larger incisions.
Complications are rare. But, no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a parathyroidectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the surgery.
Your doctor will:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain. You will stay asleep through the surgery. In some cases, local anesthesia may also be used.
There are different types of minimally invasive surgeries that may be used, such as:
The doctor will make a 1¼ inch (3 centimeter) cut in the neck. She will then insert a scope with a tiny camera attached. This camera will send images to the TV monitors. The doctor will rely on these images to find the abnormal gland.
The doctor will inject a radioactive substance into your body. The abnormal gland, and not the healthy ones, will absorb the substance. The doctor will then make a 1 inch (2½ centimeter) cut in the neck. She then will insert a small probe. The probe will detect signals that are given off by the radioactive substance. This will help the doctor find the abnormal gland.
Once the gland has been removed, the doctor will close the area with stitches.
Between 30 minutes and 1-2 hours (depending on the type of surgery)
This procedure is most commonly done in a hospital setting. If so, the usual length of stay is one day. It may be possible to leave the hospital on the same day of the procedure. Ask your doctor if this is an option for you. But, if you have any problems, you will need to stay longer.
The hospital staff will:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS)
The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Farndon JR. Postoperative complications of parathyroidectomy. In: Holzheimer RG, Mannick JA. Surgical Treatment: Evidence-Based and Problem-Oriented. Munich, Germany: Zuckschwerdt; 2001. National Center for Biotechnology Information website. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6967/ . Accessed February 19, 2011.
Miccoli P, Berti P, Conte M, Raffaelli M, Materazzi G. Minimally invasive video-assisted parathyroidectomy: lesson learned from 137 cases. J Am Coll Surg. 2000;191(6):613-618.
Parathyroid surgery. The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.endocrinesurgery.org/patient_education/parathyroid/surgery_overview.shtml . Accessed February 19, 2011.
Parathyroidectomy. Baylor College of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.debakeydepartmentofsurgery.org/home/content.cfm?proc_name=Parathyroidectomy&content_id=274 . Updated February 18, 2011. Accessed February 19, 2011.
Parathyroidectomy. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://acromegalysupport.org/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Head-and-Neck-Cancer-Center/Treatment/Parathyroidectomy.aspx . Accessed February 19, 2011.
Parathyroidectomy: minimally invasive (focused). University of California, Los Angeles Endocrine Surgery website. Available at: http://endocrinesurgery.ucla.edu/surgery_mip.html . Accessed February 21, 2011.
6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : 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.e8.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Bridget Sinnott, MD, FACE
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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