The parathyroid glands are small, pea-sized glands located in the neck, behind the thyroid gland. Most people have four parathyroid glands, although the number can vary. These glands play a crucial role in regulating the levels of calcium in the body. While rare, there are a few main conditions affecting these four glands in the base of the neck:
- Hyperparathyroidism: The most common cause of this condition is adenomas, non-cancerous growths in the glands, and they typically occur in hyperplasia, where more than one parathyroid gland is involved.
- Hypoparathyroidism: This rare condition can be caused by a lack of parathyroid glands or when the glands are less active than they should be. This can lead to seizures, heart arrhythmias, and more.
- Parathyroid cancer: Overall, cancer accounts for less than 1% of parathyroid diagnoses.
St. Luke’s Health endocrinologists offer a variety of treatments for parathyroid conditions, ranging from medications to surgery. As one of 31 National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) Rare Disease Centers of Excellence, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center offers patients high-quality, specialized care for the diagnosis and treatment of parathyroid conditions.
What are the common symptoms of parathyroid disorders?
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your St. Luke's Health primary care physician or endocrinologist to discover more.
Advanced treatments for parathyroid conditions
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements: The primary treatment for hypoparathyroidism involves taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to maintain normal calcium levels in the blood. These supplements are often needed for life.
- Treatment of symptoms: Medications or treatments may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms, such as muscle cramps or seizures.
- Surgery (parathyroidectomy): The primary and most common treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism is the surgical removal of the overactive parathyroid gland(s). This procedure, known as parathyroidectomy, is typically successful in restoring normal parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels.
Our experts use the latest breakthroughs and innovations in the surgical treatment of endocrine disorders, including scarless parathyroid removal using the transoral vestibular approach (TOVA). Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is currently the only center in Texas that performs this novel procedure.