Parathyroid Disorders

Four tiny parathyroid glands located behind the thyroid regulate the calcium in our body by producing the parathyroid hormone (PTH).

The most common parathyroid disorder is called Primary Hyperparathyroidism, which is when the parathyroid hormone level is above the normal range and results in an increase of calcium in the body.

The excess hormone production (hyperparathyroidism) is usually caused by a benign (non-cancerous) tumor called an adenoma that has formed in one or more of the pea-sized parathyroid glands.

The symptoms of high calcium/primary hyperparathyroidism including the following:
• Fatigue and mental fogginess
• Mood changes including depression, anxiety, and irritability
• Cognitive problems
• Disordered sleep
• Muscle cramps and pains
• Decreased muscle strength
• Decreased functional capacity
• Nausea and/or heartburn/indigestion
• Increased urination

Blood tests that measure the amount of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and calcium are used to diagnose primary hyperparathyroidism. Surgical removal of the affected parathyroid gland is the recommended treatment to cure primary hyperparathyroidism.

In order to minimize the risks and time of surgery, doctors at the Thyroid Institute of Utah consider two types of studies to localize the parathyroid adenoma(s). The first study is an ultrasound of the neck. When a parathyroid adenoma is localized on ultrasound, this allows for a biopsy to provide proof that it is really there. The second study is a parathyroid sestamibi scan, which is preferably done with SPECT. A sestamibi scan can aid in identifying parathyroid adenomas in areas that cannot be viewed by ultrasound, such as deep in the chest or behind the trachea (windpipe).

Surgeons at the Thyroid Institute of Utah perform Minimally Invasive Parathyroid Surgery. The surgeon makes a small incision in the neck through which a radiation-detecting probe is used to identify the problematic parathyroid gland(s).  After the parathyroid gland(s) are removed, a combination of PTH hormone blood tests and the probe are used to verify that the condition has resolved and no other parathyroid glands need to be removed.

Learn more about Parathyroid Disease

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We offer comprehensive treatment of all thyroid and parathyroid conditions including: