(Parathyroidectomy—Open; Parathyroidectomy—Standard; Parathyroid Gland Removal—Conventional; Parathyroid Gland Removal—Open; Parathyroid Gland Removal—Standard)
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.
Reasons for Procedure
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.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
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.
Description of the Procedure
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.
How Long Will It Take?
20 minutes to several hours, depending on how many glands need to be removed
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
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.
At the Hospital
The hospital staff will:
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. To help your recovery at home:
Call Your Doctor
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.endocri... . Accessed June 18, 2013.
Parathyroidectomy. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://acromegalys... . Accessed June 18, 2013.
6/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : 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