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The parathyroid gland may need to be removed in the case of hypercalcemia, a condition that occurs when blood calcium levels are too high.  

The parathyroid glands are made up of four small, round pieces. They are located at the back of the thyroid glands and play an important role in regulating how much calcium is in the blood. If the level of calcium in your bloodstream is low, the parathyroid glands will release a hormone known as parathyroid hormone (PTH), which takes calcium from the bones. If you have been diagnosed with hypercalcemia, in which your blood contains excess calcium, your doctor may have referred you for parathyroid gland removal surgery. Read on to find out more about when this procedure is necessary, and what it involves…

When is parathyroid gland removal necessary?  

You may be referred for parathyroid gland removal surgery, also known as parathyroidectomy, if you have a condition called hypercalcemia. This condition occurs when the calcium levels in your blood are too high. Hypercalcemia often occurs when the parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). An overproduction of PTH is a form of hyperparathyroidism, a condition that tends to be most common in women over the age of 45 years old.

Besides hypercalcemia, there are a few other reasons one might be referred for parathyroid surgery. These include cancerous tumours on or near to the parathyroid glands; adenomas, which are benign tumours; and a condition called parathyroid hyperplasia, in which the parathyroid glands become unusually enlarged.

What are the signs of hypercalcemia?  

Some of the most common symptoms of hypercalcemia include muscle pain; nausea; vomiting; fatigue; depression; appetite loss; and excessive thirst. You may also notice some abdominal pain and/or constipation, as well as frequent urination; kidney stones and muscle weakness.

 In some cases, it is possible to present with no symptoms at all. In this case, your doctor may recommend that you are regularly monitored or that your condition is managed with medicine. If, however, your condition is caused by primary hyperparathyroidism, you will be referred for surgery because the removal of the affected parathyroid gland will effectively resolve your symptoms.

If left untreated, severe hypercalcemia can lead to a range of serious health conditions, including high blood pressure; kidney failure; and heart-related problems. These issues can occur when calcium builds up in the arteries and heart valves.

What does the procedure involve?

During parathyroidectomy, your surgeon will carefully remove one or more parathyroid glands using minimally invasive techniques. This involves a tiny incision through which the diseased gland or glands are removed. In many cases, only one gland may need to be removed, but if your high calcium levels continue even after surgery, you may need to have an additional procedure to remove the other diseased glands. Your surgeon will let you know what course of treatment is most appropriate for you.

One of the benefits of minimally invasive parathyroidectomy is that the procedure allows for a much quicker recovery when compared with traditional methods. Before you undergo surgery, your surgeon will explain the details of the surgery to you, as well as any potential risks.  

How can we help?

Associate Professor Navin Niles specialises in minimally invasive parathyroid resection. If you have been diagnosed with a problem related to your parathyroid glands and require surgical intervention, we encourage you to come in and see Associate Professor Navin Niles for a consultation so that he can discuss your treatment options with you.

As an endocrine specialist, Associate Professor Navin Niles offers a range of procedures. These include hemithyroidectomy, parotidectomy, parathyroidectomy and thyroidectomy. To find out more about these treatments, please have a look here.

To arrange a consultation with Associate Professor Niles, please contact us here or give us a call on (02) 9810 9839. We look forward to helping to improve your overall wellness and are available to provide you with the all information you need regarding your procedure.