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Hyperparathyroidism is a condition characterized by overactivity of the parathyroid glands, the four tiny glands located in the neck that control the body’s calcium levels.
- Normally, the parathyroid glands secrete parathyroid hormone (PTH), a substance that helps maintain the correct balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body. When blood calcium levels fall too low, the parathyroid glands secrete PTH to restore the blood calcium level.
- Hyperparathyroidism can be primary, secondary and tertiary.
- Primary hyperparathyroidism occurs when there is a disorder of the parathyroid glands themselves. “Primary” means this disorder originates in the parathyroid gland, that is, one or more enlarged, overactive parathyroid glands secretes too much PTH. The elevated levels of PTH cause elevated levels of blood calcium. This is known as hypercalcemia.
- Secondary hyperparathyroidism refers to excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid gland in response to low calcium in the blood and associated hyperplasia of the gland. This is seen among patients with chronic kidney disease.
- Tertiary hyperparathyroidism after a long period of secondary hyperparathyroidism when the parathyroid glands lose its regulation and automaticity, secrete excess parathyroid hormone in response to prolonged low calcium levels. Eventually, this causes high levels of calcium in the blood.
Hyperparathyroidism may or may not cause symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they are often mild, such as
- depression or behavioral changes
- body aches and pains
More severe symptoms include:
- appetite loss
- excessive thirst
- increased urination
- memory problems
- kidney stones
- The most common cause of primary hyperparathyroidism is a benign tumor called an adenoma on one of the parathyroid glands that secretes too much PTH. Benign tumors are noncancerous. In most other cases, the excess hormone comes from two or more enlarged parathyroid glands, a condition called hyperplasia. Very rarely, hyperparathyroidism is caused by cancer of a parathyroid gland.
- The diagnosis of hyperparathyroidism relies on blood tests to measure hormone and calcium levels.
- Surgery is the main treatment for hyperparathyroidism
- Surgical procedures involve removing enlarged parathyroid glands or tumors on the glands. Complications are rare and include damaged vocal cord nerves and long-term, low levels of calcium.
The Medical City offers a comprehensive diagnostic program for patients with parathyroid adenoma. Patients with these disorders are cared for by experts from endocrinology, nephrology, orthopedics, head and neck surgery, nuclear medicine, radiation and medical oncology, radiology, and pathology.
The Medical City’s team of multidisciplinary specialists is focused on reaching accurate diagnosis through thorough testing and providing the best treatment options for each patient.
For inquiries, you may call the Medical Committee Office at 9881000 ext. 6289.
The Medical City Section of Endocrinology