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What is parathyroid surgery?

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Quick Answer

Parathyroid surgery, also known as a parathyroidectomy, is a surgery to remove parathyroid tumors or the parathyroid glands, according to MedlinePlus. The parathyroid glands help control levels of calcium in the blood and are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck.

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Full Answer

Parathyroid surgery is typically necessary when one or more of the parathyroid glands is producing an excess of parathyroid hormones, a condition termed hyperparathyroidism, according to MedlinePlus. The condition is usually caused by a small, benign tumor. Physicians generally determine the need for surgery based on calcium levels in blood and urine, the intensity of symptoms, and the patient's age and overall health.

Parathyroid surgery usually takes one to three hours to perform, according to MedlinePlus. Patients receive general anesthesia while the parathryoid glands are removed through a surgical cut on the neck. In most cases, the surgeon makes an incision in the center of the patient's neck, directly under the Adam's apple. Only diseased parathyroid glands are removed during the surgery.

During surgery, patients undergo blood tests to determine if all diseased glands were removed, according to MedlinePlus. Potential risks of a parathryoidectomy include injury to the thyroid gland, injury to nerves in the vocal cords and hypoparathyroidism, according to MedlinePlus.

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