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How risky is parathyroid surgery?

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The risks associated with parathyroid surgery include low calcium levels in the blood, bleeding in the neck and hoarseness, according to The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. However, these complications are dependent on a surgeon’s experience. In addition, the risks are high in patients undergoing a re-operative parathyroid surgery.

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Another complication risk of surgery is wound infection. Fortunately, this is a very rare instance and may happen only once in every 1,000 patients, explains The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. Treatment of wounds requires incision, drainage and prescription of antibiotics. Similarly, hematoma or bleeding in the neck occurs rarely but is a potentially serious complication. The hematoma may increase in size causing breathing difficulties. The patient is advised to avoid aspirin and blood thinners such as Plavix, Coumadin or heparin prior to and after surgery to minimize the risk of bleeding.

Hypocalcemia or low calcium levels in the blood may occur after parathyroidectomy as a result of stunning the remaining parathyroid glands after the operation or the removal of too much parathyroid tissues, states The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. Another potential risk of parathyroid surgery is injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerves positioned on either side of the trachea, which may cause hoarseness or a whispering quality to the voice.

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