What is parathyroid hormone?

The parathyroid hormone is produced in the parathyroid glands and is responsible for maintaining the balance of calcium and phosphate in the blood. This balance can be disturbed during renal failure and it is not always corrected after transplantation. It may be necessary to remove the parathyroid glands in order to correct this problem. You will find more information on the role of the parathyroid gland in the leaflet titled ‘Hyperparathyroidism and renal bone disease’

What is a parathyroidectomy?

Parathyroidectomy is the name given to the surgical operation to remove the parathyroid glands from the body.

What preparations are needed before the operation?

Admission for parathyroidectomy is planned in advance. Before admission you may be prescribed alfa-calcidol tablets (vitamin D) and you will require your vocal cords to be checked.

What happens during the operation?

An incision is made above the collar bone, approximately 4 inches in length. The 4 parathyroid glands are located by the surgeon and removed, a drain inserted at either end of the incision and either sutures (stitches) or surgical clips are inserted.

What happens after the operation?

The drains are removed on the following day and sutures removed in 3 to 4 days. The scar heals well, as the area is well supplied with blood vessels, although some bruising is inevitable. Some hoarseness of the voice may be noted after surgery, this is caused by swelling of the vocal cords but should improve over the few days after the operation.

Following surgery, it is necessary to monitor your blood levels of calcium and phosphate. Supplements may be required either as tablets or sometimes given intravenously. If your calcium level drops too low you may experience tingling of the hands or face. Please tell the ward staff if you experience these symptoms.

You will stay in hospital for between 5 and 7 days or until the balance between your calcium and phosphate levels is re-established.

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