Skip to main content
Alert icon
COVID-19 Resources Click here for details.

Parathyroid Surgery

The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands located in the neck. These glands control the level of calcium in the blood. The most common problem that affects the parathyroid glands is called hyperparathyroidism. This occurs when one or more of the glands is too active, causing a high blood calcium level.

Hyperparathyroidism can lead to serious health problems throughout the body, but it can be treated. Enlarged parathyroid glands are removed with surgery. This helps to restore the level of calcium level in the blood to normal. Your doctor will discuss your condition with you and explain the risks and benefits of surgery.

To determine if you need surgery and are physically healthy for parathyroid surgery, your physician will do a medical history and examine your head and neck. You may have diagnostic tests that include blood tests, which check for high levels of calcium and PTH, urine tests, a bone density study, and an imaging test.

During Parathyroid Surgery

You may need one or more parathyroid glands removed. The decision about how many glands to remove is often made during surgery.

An incision is made at the neck to remove the gland(s) and then closed with sutures, strips of surgical tape or surgical glue.

Recovering After Parathyroid Surgery

Recovery from parathyroid surgery is usually quick. You may go home on the day of surgery or stay overnight. You will be given instructions for how to care for yourself once you are home and when you need to see your surgeon for a follow-up visit.

It will take time for your body to adjust after the removal of any parathyroid glands. To maintain a normal level of calcium in the blood, you may be given calcium supplements in the hospital. You will continue these at home for as long as needed. Your doctor may also prescribe vitamin D supplements, which help your body absorb calcium.

You may feel tired and have some soreness and stiffness in your neck. Also, a sore throat is common and may last for a few days after surgery. Take care of your incision and ease back into your normal routine as instructed by your doctor.

Be sure to keep your incision clean and dry. Check with your doctor first before applying any creams or ointments to the incision.

Returning to Activity After Parathyroid Surgery

You can get back to your normal routine as soon as you feel comfortable. Walking is fine, but avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for a few weeks.

Your doctor may advise you to wait a week before driving. Return to work when you feel ready. For most people, this takes at least a few days.

Call your doctor if you notice any of the following during your recovery:

  • Hoarse voice that worsens
  • Increasing redness, swelling, or drainage at the incision site
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle cramping or spasms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Neck swelling
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingertips or around the mouth
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble swallowing

West Tennessee Healthcare (WTH) does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, Limited English Proficiency or sex, including discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, sex stereotyping or pregnancy in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits under any of its programs and activities, whether carried out by WTH directly or through a contractor or any other entity with which WTH arranges to carry out its programs and activities.

For further information about this policy, contact Amy Garner (731) 541-9914.