The parathyroid glands are four small endocrine glands that sit adjacent to the thyroid in your neck. The parathyroid glands regulate calcium in your bloodstream. They can become problematic if they begin releasing too much hormone. This is a condition known as hyperparathyroidism, which may be caused by a small benign tumor known as an adenoma.
The symptoms of hyperparathyroidism can be very mild: fatigue, body aches and depression. Some patients may present with a broader array of symptoms that include:
When you begin experiencing the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, only one of the four glands may be responsible. So, prior to surgery, your surgeon will order a CT scan in order to determine which gland or glands needs to be removed.
In the past, a bilateral neck exploration was the only way to determine which glands to remove. Now, thanks to testing that can be done before surgery, the surgery can be performed laparoscopically. This minimally invasive approach results in a much smaller scar and leaves the healthy glands in place.