A parathyroidectomy is a surgery to remove parathyroid glands. There are four parathyroid glands located in the neck. The glands make a hormone that balance the level of calcium 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 may be abnormal due to cancer or for other reasons.
Complications are not common, 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 is used most often. It will block any pain and you will stay asleep through the surgery.
In some cases, local anesthesia may be used instead. 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. If all four glands were removed, a part of one gland may be placed in a different area of the neck or in the forearm. The incision will be closed with stitches.
20 minutes to several hours, depending on how many glands need to be removed
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.
The hospital staff will:
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. To help your recovery at home:
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 June 18, 2013.
Parathyroid surgery. The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.endocrinesurgery.org/patient_education/parathyroid/surgery_overview.shtml . Accessed June 18, 2013.
Parathyroidectomy. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://acromegalysupport.org/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Head-and-Neck-Cancer-Center/Treatment/Parathyroidectomy.aspx . Accessed June 18, 2013.
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 2013 by Kim Carmichael, 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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