Hyperparathyroidism is a condition in which there is too much parathyroid hormone in the bloodstream due to one (or more) of the body’s four parathyroid glands being overactive.

Overview and Symptoms

The parathyroid glands are located in your neck and are about the size of a grain of rice. The glands produce parathyroid hormone, which helps maintain an appropriate balance of calcium in the body.

There are two types of hyperparathyroidism. In primary hyperparathyroidism, one or more of the parathyroid glands is enlarged, causing overproduction of the hormone, which results in high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia). It can also be caused by a non-cancerous growth, or in rare cases, by a malignant tumor.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism occurs as a result of another disease that initially causes low levels of calcium in the body and over time, increased parathyroid hormone levels occur.

Common symptoms of hyperparathyroidism include:

  • osteoporosis
  • kidney stones
  • excessive urination
  • abdominal pain
  • fatigue/weakness
  • depression or forgetfulness
  • bone and joint pain

Treatment at BIDMC

Surgery is the most common treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism and provides a cure in about 95 percent of all cases. Since endocrine surgery is very precise, hyperparathyroidectomy (removal of parathyroid) should only be done by surgeons who have special training in endocrine surgery. Our endocrine surgeons are highly experienced and perform a high volume of these procedures each year.

The surgeon will remove only the diseased gland(s) - more than one gland could be affected. Surgery is usually done on an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to go home the same day.

Our expert surgeons use innovative techniques for treating hyperparathyroidism, including transoral endocrine surgery. Using this technique, surgeons access the thyroid gland by making three incisions in the patient’s inner lip, leaving no visible scar after surgery. We also offer traditional surgery where an incision is made on the neck. Your surgeon will discuss both options with you.

Endocrine Surgery

Our team of endocrine surgeons is highly experienced and skilled in removing parathyroid tumors and glands.

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