Parathyroidectomy | Tampa General Hospital

Parathyroidectomy

A parathyroidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or more of the four parathyroid glands. Located toward the bottom of the neck behind the thyroid, the rice-sized parathyroid glands are responsible for producing parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood and helps facilitate healthy nerve and musculoskeletal function. (A thyroidectomy is a similar procedure that removes all or a portion of the thyroid gland rather than the parathyroid glands.)

Tampa General Hospital’s Parathyroid & Thyroid Institute has performed more parathyroid surgeries than any other hospital in the world. Today, patients from across the globe travel to TGH to undergo parathyroidectomy procedures and receive highly specialized treatment from award-winning surgeons.

When is a Parathyroidectomy Recommended?

Parathyroidectomy procedures are often performed to treat hyperparathyroidism, which occurs when one or multiple parathyroid glands become overactive and produce too much PTH. Hyperparathyroidism spikes blood calcium levels and can lead to complications like kidney stones, osteoporosis and nervous system problems.

A benign parathyroid tumor or an enlarged gland (hyperplasia) are the most common causes of hyperparathyroidism. It’s possible for a cancerous tumor to trigger this condition, although parathyroid cancer is very rare.

What Happens During a Parathyroidectomy Procedure?

During a parathyroidectomy procedure, a surgeon removes one, several or all four parathyroid glands through a small incision. The patient is placed under local or general anesthesia during the operation and does not feel pain. 

There are multiple approaches to parathyroidectomy surgery:

  • Minimally invasive radioguided parathyroidectomy 
  • Reoperative parathyroidectomy
  • Combined parathyroid and thyroid surgery 

What Can I Expect From the Procedure?

Parathyroidectomy procedures cure most cases of hyperparathyroidism and eliminate or significantly improve the symptoms of too much calcium in the blood. And while a parathyroidectomy is considered a safe and effective operation, any medical treatment comes with some measure of risk.

Rare but possible complications of parathyroid surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Blood loss
  • A pooling of blood beneath the skin (hematoma) that causes swelling
  • Chronic low calcium levels due to parathyroid gland damage or all four glands being removed (this can usually be addressed by taking supplements)
  • Voice nerve injury (rare in our practice)

It may take some time for remaining parathyroid glands to function normally after a parathyroidectomy procedure. Some patients experience hypocalcemia (low calcium levels) during the first few days following surgery that usually resolves on its own.

TGH’s Parathyroid & Thyroid Institute offers the latest advancements in surgical care, including minimally invasive parathyroidectomies that have a low risk of complications, are performed on an outpatient basis and offer a cure rate of nearly 100%. Our parathyroid surgeons, Drs. Douglas Politz and José López, are considered the most experienced surgeons operating in the world today, having completed more than 35,000 individual parathyroid gland examinations and more than 14,000 parathyroidectomy procedures combined to date.