(Parathyroid Gland Removal—Minimally Invasive; Video-assisted Parathyroidectomy; Endoscopic Parathyroidectomy; Radio-guided Parathyroidectomy; Parathyroidectomy, Video-assisted; Parathyroidectomy, Endoscopic; Parathyroidectomy, Radio-guided)
A parathyroidectomy is a surgery to remove abnormal parathyroid glands. There are four parathyroid glands located in the neck. The glands make parathyroid hormone, which is used to control calcium levels in the blood.
Reasons for Procedure
The surgery is done to remove one or more abnormal parathyroid glands. The glands can be abnormal due to cancer or for other reasons.
A minimally invasive approach is usually done if only one gland needs to be removed. If more than one gland needs to be removed or if the doctor needs to do additional surgery in the neck, she may use a conventional approach instead, which involves making larger incisions.
Complications are rare. 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 will be used. It will block any pain. You will stay asleep through the surgery. In some cases, local anesthesia may also be used.
Description of the Procedure
There are different types of minimally invasive surgeries that may be used, such as:
Video-assisted Parathyroidectomy (Endoscopic Parathyroidectomy)
The doctor will make a 1¼ inch (3 centimeter) cut in the neck. She will then insert a scope with a tiny camera attached. This camera will send images to the TV monitors. The doctor will rely on these images to find the abnormal gland.
The doctor will inject a radioactive substance into your body. The abnormal gland, and not the healthy ones, will absorb the substance. The doctor will then make a 1 inch (2½ centimeter) cut in the neck. She then will insert a small probe. The probe will detect signals that are given off by the radioactive substance. This will help the doctor find the abnormal gland.
Once the gland has been removed, the doctor will close the area with stitches.
How Long Will It Take?
Between 30 minutes and 1-2 hours (depending on the type of surgery)
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is most commonly done in a hospital setting. If so, the usual length of stay is one day. It may be possible to leave the hospital on the same day of the procedure. Ask your doctor if this is an option for you. But, if you have any problems, you will need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
The hospital staff will:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
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
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Miccoli P, Berti P, Conte M, Raffaelli M, Materazzi G. Minimally invasive video-assisted parathyroidectomy: lesson learned from 137 cases. J Am Coll Surg. 2000;191(6):613-618.
Parathyroid surgery. The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.endocri... . Accessed February 19, 2011.
Parathyroidectomy. Baylor College of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.debakey... . Updated February 18, 2011. Accessed February 19, 2011.
Parathyroidectomy. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://acromegalys... . Accessed February 19, 2011.
Parathyroidectomy: minimally invasive (focused). University of California, Los Angeles Endocrine Surgery website. Available at: http://endocrinesurgery.ucla.edu/surgery_mip.html . Accessed February 21, 2011.
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 2012 by Bridget Sinnott, MD, FACE