Understanding Hyperparathyroidism

Hyperparathyroidism is a condition in which one or more of the four parathyroid glands secrete an excessive amount of the parathyroid hormone (PTH). The parathyroid glands use PTH production to regulate and maintain calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. When the parathyroid glands produce too much PTH, calcium and phosphorus levels can become abnormal, causing symptoms like bone and joint pain, excessive urination, depression, and fatigue. If left untreated, hyperparathyroidism can cause osteoporosis and kidney stones as high PTH levels cause an excessive release of calcium from bones.

There are two types of hyperparathyroidism: primary and secondary. 

Primary hyperparathyroidism occurs when one or more of the parathyroid glands become abnormal and cause an elevated production of PTH. As a result, blood calcium levels rise and blood phosphorus levels fall. In the order of most to least common, the following abnormalities of the parathyroid glands can cause PTH production to rise:

  • Adenomas – Benign tumors that grow on a parathyroid gland
  • Hyperplasia – Two or more enlarged parathyroid glands
  • Cancer – A malignant tumor that grows on a parathyroid gland

Secondary hyperparathyroidism occurs when low calcium levels cause the parathyroid glands to overwork and produce too much PTH. The following may cause low calcium levels:

  • Insufficient calcium intake through food
  • A severe deficiency in Vitamin D, which helps regulate blood calcium levels and absorb calcium from food
  • Chronic kidney failure, which may cause a deficiency in usable Vitamin D and a subsequent calcium deficiency

To treat hyperparathyroidism and parathyroid tumors, Tampa General Hospital’s Parathyroid Center performs minimally invasive radioguided parathyroid (MIRP) surgery. TGH is the only hospital in the nation that offers MIRP surgery, which is the least invasive type of parathyroid surgery and has the highest cure rate for parathyroid conditions. TGH’s Parathyroid Center performs more than 2,500 minimally invasive procedures a year to cure parathyroid disorders