Parathyroid surgery is recommended when one or more of the four parathyroid glands which make parathyroid hormone (PTH) is overactive. Parathyroid hormone primarily controls calcium levels in the blood. There are four parathyroid glands around the thyroid. When one or more of them is overactive it is called an adenoma. When too much parathyroid hormone is produced, this causes calcium levels in the blood to be to high which can cause a variety of problems.
These problems include bone loss (which can lead to osteoporosis), kidney stones, abdominal pain, and sometimes depression and trouble concentrating. Under these circumstances the overactive parathyroid gland needs to be removed and this can typically be done with a small incision in the neck and is usually done outpatient. A localization study called a sestamibi scan is usually done before surgery to help determine which of the four glands is overactive.
How urgent is parathyroid surgery?
With very few exceptions, parathyroid surgery is not urgent. However, if your hyperparathyroidism is not corrected it can lead to bone loss (osteoporosis), kidney stones, weakness, fatigue, mood issues as well as cardiovascular problems. Contact a parathyroid surgeon or endocrinologist for consultation.
How long do you stay in the hospital after parathyroid surgery?
Patients usually go home the same day after parathyroid surgery. However, sometime patients stay in the hospital overnight if there is concern the calcium levels may drop too much. Your parathyroid surgeon will need to assess how soon you'll need to stay in the hospital.
What is the recovery time for parathyroid surgery?
Everyone is different especially in their response to general anesthesia but usually patients are back pretty close to normal in one week. There may be some hoarseness and neck soreness but these are usually minimal and resolve in a week or two. There is a small risk of injury to the nerves that control the vocal cords.