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Parathyroidectomy is the surgical removal of one or more parathyroid glands.


The parathyroid glands are four rice-sized glands located on back of the thyroid gland in the neck. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH), which controls the levels of calcium in the body

In patients with hyperparathyroidism, one or more parathyroid glands become enlarged and oversecrete parathyroid hormone, causing levels of calcium to rise in the blood.

Surgery to remove the enlarged gland (or glands) is the only definitive treatment for the disorder and cures it in 95 percent of cases.


With the use of accurate preoperative imaging studies and intraoperative parathyroid hormone measurement, minimally invasive parathyroidectomy via a 2-3 centimeter incision is possible in the majority of cases.


Parathyroid Surgery at UCSF

UCSF is a major referral center for endocrine surgery. Surgeons at UCSF perform a high volume of endocrine surgery procedures with generally excellent results.


In 85-90% of patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, only one gland is abnormal. This allows endocrine surgeons to perform a more limited, focused exploration where there is a high likelihood of having only a single abnormal gland.This approach is referred to as a "minimally invasive parathyroidectomy" or MIP and is the most common procedure performed today. The MIP procedure has the following advantages for patients:


  • Less post-operative pain

  • Faster recovery from surgery

  • Small or barely visible scar

  • Shorter hospital stay

  • A more rapid return to work and normal activities


Post-Operative Complications

Less than 1 percent of patients will have postoperative bleeding requiring repeat operation. Less than 1 percent of patients may experience damage to the nerves controlling the vocal cords, which can affect speech. Less than 1% of patients may develop low calcium following operation which requires treatment with calcium or vitamin D.



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