Jefferson University Hospitals

Parathyroidectomy

Overactive parathyroid glands can cause elevated calcium levels, thinning of the bones, gastrointestinal problems and kidney problems.

What Does a Parathyroidectomy Involve?

During a parathyroidectomy, head and neck surgeons remove one or more of the four natural parathyroid glands located behind the thyroid gland to treat an overactive parathyroid gland or cancer.

Parathyroidectomy is performed through a small incision on the front of the neck that is concealed within a skin crease. The size of the incision is typically smaller than a thyroidectomy incision, about one inch in length, when using minimally invasive techniques and instruments.

Your surgeon may also use a technique where you will be given a safe radioactive tracer followed by a parathyroid scan just prior to your surgery. Once the diseased parathyroid tissue is removed, your surgeon will recheck the parathyroid hormone level to show that it has returned to normal before the end of the surgery.

After a Parathyroidectomy

After surgery, your surgeon may clear you for discharge the same day and ask you to take calcium supplements for several weeks to avoid a rebound effect of low calcium levels. Symptoms of low calcium levels are numbness or tingling around the mouth or fingertips, however more severe symptoms include muscle cramping and spasms.