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Parathyroid gland removal

Parathyroidectomy - series


Parathyroidectomy is surgery to remove the parathyroid glands or parathyroid tumors. The parathyroid glands are right behind your thyroid gland in your neck. These glands help your body control the calcium level in the blood.

Alternative Names

Removal of parathyroid gland; Parathyroidectomy


You will receive general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) for this surgery.

Usually the parathyroid glands are removed using a 2- to 4-inch surgical cut on your neck. During surgery:

The specific type of surgery depends on where the diseased parathyroid glands are. Types of surgery include:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Your doctor may recommend this surgery if one or more of your parathyroid glands is producing too much parathyroid hormone. This condition is called hyperparathyroidism. It is often caused by a small non-cancerous (benign) tumor called an adenoma.

Your doctor will consider many factors when deciding whether to do surgery and what type of surgery would be best for you. Some of these factors are:


Risks for anesthesia and surgery in general are:

Risks for parathyroidectomy are:

Before the Procedure

Parathyroid glands are very small. You may need to have tests that show exactly where your glands are. This will help your surgeon find your parathyroid glands during surgery. Two of the tests you may have are a CT scan and an ultrasound.

Before surgery, an anesthesiologist will review your medical history with you and decide what type of anesthesia to use. The anesthesiologist is the doctor who will give you the medicine that makes you asleep and pain-free during surgery and who monitors you during surgery.

Fill any prescriptions for pain medicine and calcium you will need after surgery.

Several days to a week before surgery, you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and other drugs like these.

Follow instructions about when to stop eating and drinking before surgery.

Ask your doctor which medicines you should still take the day of surgery. Take them with a sip of water.

If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help.

Arrive at the hospital on time.

After the Procedure

Often, people can go home the same day they have surgery. You can start your everyday activities in a few days. It will take about 1 to 3 weeks for you to fully heal.

The surgery area must be kept clean and dry. You may need to drink liquids and eat soft foods for a day.

Call your surgeon if you have any numbness or tingling around your mouth in the 24 to 48 hours after surgery. This is caused by low calcium. Your surgeon may want to see you and might suggest you can take calcium supplements until the symptoms go away.

After this procedure, you should have routine blood tests to check your calcium level.

Outlook (Prognosis)

People usually recover soon after this surgery. Recovery is fastest when less invasive techniques are used.

Sometimes, another surgery is needed to remove more of the parathyroid glands.


Sosa JA, Udelsman R. The parathyroid glands. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 39.

Review Date: 10/24/2014
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.