Parathyroid Surgery Specialist

General Surgical Care P.C.

General Surgeons located in Bethlehem, PA

Your parathyroid glands are about the size of a grain of rice, yet they regulate your blood levels of calcium. When the glands become overactive, surgical intervention is the preferred treatment. Dr. Mark Schadt and Dr. Richard Conron, Jr. at General Surgical Care have the expertise necessary to perform delicate parathyroid surgery. If you have questions about parathyroid surgery, please call their office in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or schedule an appointment online for a consultation.

Parathyroid Surgery Q & A

What are parathyroid glands?

The parathyroid glands are four very small glands located behind your thyroid gland. They manufacture parathyroid hormone, which regulates levels of calcium in the bloodstream. Maintaining tight control of blood levels of calcium is essential because you need enough to keep your muscles, nerves, and heart functioning without taking too much away from your bones.

What health conditions affect the parathyroid glands?

Hyperparathyroidism is the most common health condition affecting the parathyroid glands. In this condition, one or more glands are overactive, so they produce too much hormone.

When blood levels of calcium are normal, the parathyroid glands do not produce and release hormone. But when the glands are overactive, they keep synthesizing parathyroid hormone and increasing the blood level of calcium, regardless of the amount of calcium in your bloodstream.

High levels of calcium increase your risk for complications like kidney stones and an irregular heartbeat. Since the excess calcium in your blood is taken from bones, you’ll also be more likely to develop weak bones and osteoporosis.

What symptoms will you experience from hyperparathyroidism?

You’ll begin to develop symptoms when high levels of calcium affect other organs and tissues throughout your body. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive urination
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Frequently feeling ill with no apparent cause
  • Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite

What causes hyperparathyroidism?

Primary hyperparathyroidism is caused by:

  • Parathyroid adenoma: noncancerous growth on one or more glands -- most common cause
  • Parathyroid hyperplasia: enlargement of all four glands
  • Cancerous tumor: very rare -- only 100 cases of parathyroid cancer cases diagnosed yearly

Hyperparathyroidism can also develop from an underlying condition that lowers blood levels of calcium, such as chronic kidney failure and severe calcium or vitamin D deficiency.

When do you need parathyroid surgery?

Surgery is the preferred treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism, parathyroid adenoma, and parathyroid hyperplasia. Removal of your parathyroid glands -- parathyroidectomy -- cures 95% of all cases of hyperparathyroidism. If all four glands are involved, three glands and a portion of the fourth are usually removed to leave some functioning tissue.

There are several types of parathyroid surgery:

  • Minimally-invasive parathyroidectomy: injection of nuclear medicine highlights the diseased glands, and one small incision is used for removal
  • Video-assisted parathyroidectomy: two small incisions -- one for surgical instruments, the other for a camera to see the glands
  • Standard parathyroidectomy: one longer surgical incision