What is a parathyroid surgery?
Parathyroid surgery, or a parathyroidectomy, is a procedure during which the doctor removes part or all of your parathyroid glands.
The parathyroid glands help regulate calcium and phosphorous blood levels. When they stop working properly, parathyroid surgery removes the abnormal glands producing harmful high-calcium blood levels.
When is it used?
There are four parathyroid glands located on the outside borders of the thyroid gland in the front of the neck.
When over-activity of the parathyroid glands develops, it’s called hyperparathyroidism. This raises the levels of calcium in the blood. You might experience:
- Muscle weakness.
- Premature thinning of the bones.
- Kidney stones.
- Decreased alertness.
- Frequent urination.
- Occasional joint discomfort.
What happens during the procedure?
In most cases, you’ll receive a general anesthetic. A general anesthetic will prevent you from feeling pain during the operation.
The surgeon makes a cosmetically placed incision in your neck and exposes the parathyroid glands. All or part of your parathyroid glands will be removed, depending on your condition.
The incision is closed with sutures beneath the skin.
Risks / Benefits
What are the benefits of this procedure?
You will no longer have high calcium levels in your blood. The abnormal parathyroid gland(s) have been removed.
By eliminating the high calcium level in your blood, you will be protected from the short- and long-term consequences of calcium elevation.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
With parathyroid surgery, the risks are minimal but might include:
- Blood loss.
A patient may have short-term hoarseness, but this is rarely permanent. Rarely, a patient might have a recurrence of hyperparathyroidism as the disease develops in a previously unaffected gland.
Recovery and Outlook
What happens after the procedure?
You’re usually in the hospital overnight and might go home the next day. You might have some swelling in your neck with some discomfort in that area. Depending upon your calcium level, you might need to take additional calcium to avoid the symptoms of low calcium (occasional numbness and tingling in the extremities).
Ask your surgeon what other steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup.
When to Call the Doctor
When should I call the doctor?
Call the doctor immediately if:
- You develop a fever.
- You notice numbness or tingling in your face, lips or hands that isn’t managed with your calcium supplement.