The parathyroid is actually four small glands located behind the thyroid. Together, they produce parathyroid hormone (PTH) which is responsible for controlling the levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood and helping the body produce vitamin D.
Parathyroid disease refers to a group of three different conditions that affect the parathyroid gland. They include:
This condition develops when the parathyroid produces too much PTH, usually due to a benign tumor on the gland. Excessive PTH can cause too much calcium to accumulate in the blood, resulting in osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Cancer arising from the parathyroid glands is extremely rare. When it does occur, it tends to happen in middle-age, progress very slowly, and return after treatment.
When the parathyroid gland does not produce enough PTH, the calcium levels in the blood may plummet. This condition is often caused by neck surgery or damage to the parathyroid glands.
Your treatment will depend on the type of parathyroid disease you’re diagnosed with. To obtain a definitive diagnosis, your doctor will order hyperparathyroidism testing, blood tests, urine tests and imaging tests, such as a CT and MRI scan.
In many cases, medication can be administered to reduce parathyroid hormone and better control your blood calcium levels. However, if a tumor is present, the surgical removal of that particular gland will likely be recommended. This procedure is called a parathyroidectomy. It can be performed with open surgery or using a minimally-invasive approach for a shorter hospital stay and an easier recovery.
It can be challenging to accurately diagnose parathyroid disease. As such, it’s important to work with a physician with a high level of experience diagnosing and treating these conditions, like SFENTA’s board-certified ear, nose and throat experts.
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