Parathyroid glands control the amount of calcium in our blood and bones.
About 1 in 100 people (1 in 50 women over 50) develop a parathyroid gland
tumor during their lifetime causing parathyroid disease, called:
"hyperparathyroidism". Hyperparathyroidism is a destructive
disease that causes high blood calcium--which leads to serious health
problems--even early death. It can be cured in most patients in less than
20 minutes with parathyroid tumor removal. Hyperparathyroidism is not just
an abnormal lab value that can be monitored by your doctors. Bad things
will always occur and thus the parathyroid tumor should be removed
in virtually all cases. We've arranged our topics on separate pages. Normal parathyroid gland function is presented
first. Hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid disease) is discussed next
including high blood calcium, symptoms and complications of
hyperparathyroidism including osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, kidney
stones, stroke, high blood pressure and increased cancer risks (a partial
list). The third section presents
treatment of parathyroid tumors including the mini-parathyroid operation that everybody can have. This
"band-aid" operation can change your life! If
you are reading this site then you probably have a parathyroid tumor
that needs to be removed.
Section 1: Introduction to Parathyroid Glands
Introduction to Parathyroid Glands.
Learn what parathyroid glands are, where they are located
in our necks, and what they do.
Normal Parathyroid Gland Function. How parathyroid glands control the
calcium in our blood, nervous system, and bones. If you have high calcium,
you almost certainly have a parathyroid problem.
Section 2: Parathyroid Disease and
Hyperparathyroidism is the principle disease of parathyroid glands.
Hyperparathyroidism occurs when one (or more) of the parathyroids develops a tumor which makes too much
hormone leading to high calcium and other bad symptoms.
This tumor must be removed. Watch the video
of our surgeons performing the entire operation in less than 13 minutes. Watch
our animation; this 5 minute video will give you a great head start on
The Symptoms of
parathyroid disease (hyperparathyroidism) leading to high blood calcium are
listed here and discussed. Many of you will be
amazed what this small hormone-tumor will do to you, it even increases your risk of
stroke, heart disease, and cancer.
Hyperparathyroidism is easy but many doctors get confused. Blood
calcium levels and parathyroid hormone levels will make the diagnosis. If
you have high calcium, you almost certainly have a parathyroid tumor.
If you have an iPad, Android, or smart phone, then get the CalciumPro
app. It is much better at telling you if you have a parathyroid
problem than your doctor is. Buy
in Apple Store. Buy in Android
and Photos of Parathyroid Tumors. See photos of the
tumors we removed from our patients during a two week time period. This will allow you to
compare your calcium and PTH levels to
others who have already had surgery... so you can see what may be in your
neck. Very informative. This is a must read page.
Vitamin D Levels. 96% of patients with primary hyperparathyroidism
(a parathyroid tumor) have low vitamin D. This is the body protecting itself, but is commonly misunderstood by endocrinologists. If your doctor
said you have low vitamin
D which is causing your high calcium, read this page because that is
is our best page on how to diagnose parathyroid disease. Read this after you have read our first page on the diagnosis of hyperparathyroidism. This is an
important page you should take to
your doctors. Watch
the operation movie before you read this page.
Section 3: Surgery for Parathyroid Tumors and
Old 'Big' Parathyroid Surgery and New 'Mini' Parathyroid Surgery
The Standard Parathyroid Operation.
The treatment for
parathyroid disease (hyperparathyroidism) is surgery to remove the
parathyroid tumor. The 'standard' operation is still performed today like it was
in 1925, but nobody should ever have this big operation. If your surgeon doesn't perform
two parathyroid operations per week, then go somewhere else.
Minimally Invasive Parathyroid Surgery. Mini-parathyroid surgery
(MIRP) was invented in 1993. Virtually all parathyroid patients
should have mini-surgery --
But you must find an experienced parathyroid surgeon. Do not let your doctor tell you
that you can't get mini surgery because your scan is negative. Everybody
can have mini surgery. Period. And
all four glands should be analyzed. Be careful of surgeons who are going
to check only one parathyroid gland.
The MIRP Procedure. The
MIRP Mini-Parathyroid Operation cures over 99% of
patients using only minimal anesthesia, typically
takes less than 20 minutes and patients go home about one
or two hours later through an incision that is only 1 inch.
Click to see a
movie of this operation. This is state of the art in parathyroid
treatment with no
blood and is very informative. The entire operation to examine all four parathyroid glands and remove two
parathyroid tumors takes under 13 minutes. See here why you want all four
that goes along with the 13 minute parathyroid operation video.
This is a MUST READ SECTION. This
page describes all that is happening during the video of the
mini-parathyroid operation. There is so much happening behind the scenes
that allow this complex operation to be done so quickly that we made a
page here so you can learn what is going on and why we do the things we
We have a video of a mini-parathyroid operation that is extremely good, very
educational, and is non-scripted--exactly how we do the operation.
If you have a parathyroid problem you need to watch this video
(13 minutes). Everybody loves this video--there is NO blood! |
We have an entire page of
videos that you can learn from. Some of these are award
winning, all of them short and to the point. Learning By Videos Page
our Patient. Instructions on how to become our patient like more
than 3,200 patients do each year (about 65 parathyroid operations per
week). View our MAP
to see where our patients come from.
Section 4: More Important Information - and -
Finding the Parathyroid Tumor
Distribution of Parathyroid Disease. Although parathyroid disease
occurs most commonly in people over 50, young people get it too. This
page shows who gets hyperparathyroidism and how common it is for all age groups.
occurs because the parathyroid tumor takes calcium out of your bones.
Remove the tumor and regain bone density and bone strength.
This kind of osteoporosis is nearly 100% reversible.
Stones occur very commonly in patients with hyperparathyroidism.
Almost always it is a new onset of kidney stones, not somebody that has
had kidney stones for many years.
of Parathyroid Tumors. This page is advanced and discusses why and how the
parathyroid glands develop into tumors. Don't start here,
it will confuse you. Get the app--it
will tell you what your problem is!
The cure rate following parathyroid surgery can be
dramatically altered by the experience of the surgeon. Even the New
York Times has written about this problem. Be careful about choosing
your surgeon for your parathyroid operation.
of High Blood Calcium. It
is never normal to have a high blood calcium. We discuss the different diseases that can cause your blood
calcium to go high. Read this if your doctor told you
that your high calcium might be caused by cancer - you do not have cancer -
you have hyperparathyroidism.
Finding the Bad Parathyroid Gland.
Parathyroid Glands are normally very
small and can be very hard to find. Your surgeon's experience is the most important factor in finding the bad parathyroid gland--so please
do NOT emphasize the scans discussed on these page. The biggest mistake
EVERYBODY makes is that they worry about the parathyroid scan and believe
the scan. Parathyroid scans are wrong more than they are right folks! It is not about the scan... it is about the skill and experience
of your surgeon. Also discusses the
danger of parathyroid needle biopsy.
Sestamibi Scanning is
a very poor way to determine which parathyroid gland has developed a
tumor. This test is wrong more than it is right. The scan is very dependent upon
experience of the people doing it. If your scan is negative (and most
are), forget you ever had it. If it is positive, then it is wrong about
60% of the time. Remember, you don't care about the
scan--you care about the skill and experience of your surgeon. Stop
getting scans! We prefer negative scans--those are often the easiest
I have Just One Bad Parathyroid Gland? is by far the most common
question ever asked. About 70 percent of all
patients have just one bad parathyroid gland (a single tumor) and three
normal parathyroid glands. About 30% have two bad glands, which is why
your surgeon should look at all four of them!
Parathyroid Anatomy is described on this page--if you understand
parathyroid anatomy you will understand why parathyroid surgery requires a lot of
experience. The more experience your surgeon has, the higher the chance
of cure and the lower the chance of complications.
a Second Operation -- About 20% of people need a second parathyroid
operation because their surgeon with too little experience could not find the
parathyroid tumor, or because their surgeon took out one parathyroid tumor
and did not check the other three glands. This page is for those of you who have had an
unsuccessful operation and now need a second (or third) operation
to find that elusive parathyroid tumor. We perform between 2 and 4 re-operations
every day. 16% of our business is re-operative surgery after a failed
operation somewhere else.
Section 5: Rare Parathyroid Problems
[Do NOT start here--these are rare problems]
Parathyroid Cancer is extremely
RARE. Do not start reading this web site here! Less than 1
in 5000 of parathyroid tumors are cancers. A lot of people read this page, but
really nobody should read it because parathyroid cancer is so rare... you don't
have it! Go to a different page.
of OTHER types of cancer due to Hyperparathyroidism. People who don't
treat their hyperparathyroidism have a higher (sometimes dramatically
higher) chance of developing Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and to a
lesser extent, Colon and Kidney cancer. This is discussed at the bottom
of our page of Symptoms.
Parathyroid disease should not be "observed".
Hyp0parathyroidism is an
uncommon complication of parathyroid or
thyroid surgery--when all the parathyroids have been removed. This is HypO
= too little. This is almost always due to
removal of all 4 parathyroid glands by a surgeon with little experience.
FHH is a very rare genetic problem with high blood calcium and low urine
calcium. If you have never heard of FHH, then do not read this page. This is for people who were told they have FHH because their 24-hour urine
calcium is low--99.9% chance you do not have FHH.
HypOparathyroidism. The world's largest
study of patients who were made hypoparathyroid by a surgeon who
mistakenly removed all of their parathyroid glands.
Parathyroid Disease with Sensipar. Sensipar (Cinacalcet) is a
drug made for patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism due to kidney
failure who are on dialysis. It does not work for primary
hyperparathyroidism (what this entire web site is about), and often makes patients worse. Sensipar should NOT be used if your calcium is high.
disease during Pregnancy. Hyperparathyroidism during pregnancy is a rare problem, but it can be very
serious for both mother and child. Also discussed in our blog.
Life insurance companies know that untreated hyperparathyroidism is
associated with a decrease in life expectancy. Airplane pilots have their
license suspended if
they have high calcium. So why is your doctor
"watching" your high calcium?
Video! Watch this amazing music video produced by one of our patients.
our Parathyroid Blog. There are lots of very good stories on the blog.
MEN Syndromes are a rare familial disorder where three endocrine
glands develop tumors, including the parathyroid glands. This is also very
rare... so don't waste too much time worrying about this.
Read the stories of
over 1200 patients with hyperparathyroidism;
what they have to say
about their disease and how it affected their lives.
our Cartoon. One of our patients made a cartoon showing the
symptoms of hyperparathyroidism.
our Map of where our patients come from... you will
find that we have operated on somebody that lives down
the street from you. People love
the Calcium-Pro app
that our experts developed. Monitor your calcium, PTH, vitamin D, and
osteoporosis and diagnose hyperparathyroidism. Download for Apple
iPhone/iPad, or Android
phones/tablets. The app knows more than your doctors.