Parathyroid Gland Surgery

What is parathyroid gland surgery?

The parathyroid glands are a series of endocrine tissue collections located in the neck. The function of these glands is to maintain a stable and constant level of calcium concentration in the blood.

The parathyroid glands are four glands, located in pairs on both sides of the neck. Their weight does not exceed 50 milligrams.

As such, parathyroid gland surgery, also known as parathyroidectomy, involves the removal of the gland.

Why is the procedure performed?

Parathyroid gland surgery is considered in those cases in which the glands produce an elevated amount of this hormone. This pathology is called hyperparathyroidism, and is relatively often caused by a small non-cancerous tumor known as an adenoma.

In turn, the following factors should be taken into account when defining the need or not to perform the intervention:

  • Patient’s age
  • Levels of calcium in both urine and blood
  • Symptoms such as nephritic colic
  • Osteoporosis

What does parathyroid gland surgery consist of?

To perform thyroid gland surgery, general anesthesia will be applied, so the patient will be asleep and pain-free during the surgery.

Generally, to remove the glands, a two to four inch surgical incision is made in the neck, usually under the Adam’s apple.

Once the four glands have been identified, the affected glands are removed. In specific cases, when it is necessary to remove the four glands, it is possible to transplant a part of the gland in the forearm, or to transplant it in a neck muscle near the thyroid. This can help the body maintain a healthy calcium level.

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Depending on the location of the affected glands, there are several types of surgical approaches:

  • Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy: this is a surgery in which there is hardly any aggression to the tissues adjacent to the intervened area, with an incision of a maximum of 5 centimeters on one side of the neck. The duration of this procedure is about one hour.
  • Video-assisted parathyroidectomy: a series of two cuts are made in the neck; one to introduce the surgical instruments and the other to introduce the camera, which will allow close observation of the area and allow better extraction of the affected areas.
  • Endoscopic parathyroidectomy: in this case, the surgeon will make two to three cuts in the front of the neck and another in the upper part of the sternum. This reduces scarring as well as recovery time.

Preparation for parathyroid gland surgery

To identify parathyroid problems, medical tests are necessary to know exactly where the parathyroid gland is located. Two common tests are CT scans and ultrasounds.

Care after parathyroid surgery

Normally, the patient will be able to return home the same day the surgery is performed. In this case, it may take one to three weeks to return to full normalcy.

At the same time, it is necessary to keep clean and dry. If a tingling sensation is felt in the mouth 24/48 hours after surgery, contact your specialist as this may be caused by a low amount of calcium. After this procedure, the patient should have routine blood tests to check calcium levels.