A parathyroidectomy is a surgery to remove parathyroid glands. There are 4 parathyroid glands located in the neck. The glands make a hormone that balances the level of calcium in the blood.
Parathyroid and Thyroid Glands (Back View)
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The surgery is done to remove one or more abnormal parathyroid glands. The glands may be overactive, or abnormal due to cancer or for other reasons.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor will:
General anesthesia is used most often. It will block any pain and you will stay asleep through the surgery. The area will be numb but you will be awake.
An incision will be made in the neck. Muscle and other tissue will be moved to locate all the glands. The abnormal gland or glands will then be cut out and removed. A drain may then be placed in the area. This will allow fluids to drain out of the area while you heal. The incision will be closed with stitches.
If all 4 glands were removed, a part of one gland may be placed in a different area of the neck or in the forearm.
20 minutes to several hours, depending on how many glands need to be removed
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
You may need to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if you have any problems.
After your surgery, the the hospital staff will:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
To help your recovery at home:
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Endocrine Diseases—The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Farndon JR. Surgical treatment: Evidence-based and problem-oriented. Postoperative complications of parathyroidectomy. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6967. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Parathyroid surgery. The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons website. Available at:http://endocrinediseases.org/parathyroid/surgery_overview.shtml. Accessed May 11, 2016.
Parathyroidectomy. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Head-and-Neck-Cancer-Center/Treatment/Parathyroidectomy.aspx. Accessed May 11, 2016.
6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
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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