Primary hyperparathyroidism occurs when one or more of the four parathyroid glands next to the thyroid gland secrete too much parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates the amount of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D in your blood and bones.
Hyperparathyroidism can cause osteoporosis, kidney stones, chronic fatigue and difficulty with memory and concentration. It has also been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and other chronic conditions.
Symptoms of Hyperparathyroidism
Symptoms are caused by too much calcium in the blood and include the following:
- Bone and joint pain
- Bone fractures
- Kidney stones
- Muscle weakness
- Confusion or memory issues
- Increased thirst and urination
A routine calcium blood test with results in the above normal range is often the first indicator of primary hyperparathyroidism – before any symptoms appear.
Hyperparathyroidism Treatment at Rush
Your primary care provider can diagnose primary hyperparathyroidism if your blood tests show high levels of calcium and PTH at the same time, although additional testing may be needed to assess possible complications such as osteoporosis and kidney stones. Your provider may refer you to an endocrinologist for further evaluation and treatment.
In nearly all cases, the cause of primary hyperparathyroidism is a benign (noncancerous) tumor in a parathyroid gland.
Treatment options include the following:
- Monitoring: If you have no symptoms or kidney stones, normal bone density and only mildly elevated levels of PTH and calcium, your provider may decide to monitor your health until something changes.
- Medications: Your provider may prescribe calcimimetics. Other medications are also being studied.
- Surgery: If you have primary hyperparathyroidism, you may benefit from surgery to remove overactive parathyroid glands, even if you have no symptoms. Two types of surgery for hyperparathyroidism exist, including:
- Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy: Performed through a very small neck incision which allows for rapid recovery, this surgery is used in more than 95% of cases. Endocrine surgeons use this technique to examine all four parathyroid glands to determine which needs to be removed.
- Standard neck exploration: This traditional surgery is used in the most complicated cases.
Rush Excellence in Hyperparathyroidism Care
- Team-based approach: Working collaboratively to provide the best care possible, your team is led by an endocrinologist and may include an endocrine surgeon, a nephrologist and other specialists. Pulling together all the right experts means your treatment is comprehensive, personalized and highly effective.
- Nationally recognized experts: The Rush endocrinology and endocrine surgery teams include nationally recognized experts in the care of parathyroid conditions. These leaders bring you ground-breaking discoveries and treatments in the field as soon as they're available. U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation for endocrinology.
- Minimally invasive surgery: Rush offers minimally invasive techniques for parathyroid surgery. This means you'll have smaller scars, faster healing and less pain.