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A parathyroidectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your parathyroid glands. The parathyroid is made of 4 small glands that usually sit near the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands make a hormone that controls the amount of calcium in your blood.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Anesthesia is medicine to make you comfortable during the surgery. Healthcare providers will work with you to decide which anesthesia is best for you.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
    • Local anesthesia is a shot of medicine put into your neck. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery.
  • Tests:
    • Blood tests may be done to check your parathyroid hormone level.
    • A scan may be done right before your surgery to help healthcare providers know which parathyroid glands are overactive. Radioactive dye is put into your IV to help healthcare providers see your parathyroid glands and know which glands need to be removed. Healthcare providers will use a camera above your neck and chest to look for the parathyroid glands that absorbed the dye.
    • An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may be done to show the size and location of each parathyroid gland in your neck.

During your surgery:

  • An incision will be made in your neck, and the muscles of your neck will be pulled to each side. Your surgeon will gently move your thyroid gland aside to see the 4 parathyroid glands. A handheld probe (wand) and video may be used during the surgery to find your parathyroid glands. Your surgeon will remove part or all of your parathyroid glands. If all 4 glands need to be removed, your surgeon may leave a small part of 1 gland in place. He may also put a small piece of gland into a muscle in your arm.
  • A drain may be placed in your wound to remove blood or extra fluid from the surgery area. The wound will be closed with stitches and covered with bandages.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. A healthcare provider will check your incision soon after your surgery to make sure everything is okay. If you have a drain, your healthcare provider will check it when he checks your incision. Try to avoid jerking movements and coughing. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • Blood tests may be done to check your parathyroid hormone level to see if you need more surgery.
  • You may need to walk around the same day of surgery , or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says you can. Talk to healthcare providers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let healthcare providers know you need help.
  • You will be able to drink liquids and eat certain foods once your stomach function returns after surgery. You may be given ice chips at first. Then you will get liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then be given soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • A drain may be placed during surgery to remove extra fluid from your wound. This helps prevent infection. The drain is taken out when the wound stops draining fluid.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics are given to help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
    • Pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
    • Antinausea medicine may calm your stomach and help prevent vomiting.
    • Calcium may be given as a pill or through your IV. It will help keep your blood calcium at a normal level. It may also help treat or prevent bone loss.


  • During or after surgery, you may bleed more than expected, or get an infection. Your thyroid gland, blood vessels, or other tissues may be damaged during surgery. You may have nerve or vocal cord damage. You may have a hoarse or weak voice that lasts for a few days or longer. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and can become life-threatening. Your blood calcium level may be lower than normal after surgery. Your condition could return and you may need to have surgery again.
  • If you do not have surgery, an overactive parathyroid gland could cause elevated blood calcium levels. This could cause fatigue, and bone, joint, or muscle pain. You may also have headaches, muscle spasms, weak bones, a broken bone, hallucinations, and confusion. Cancer of your parathyroid gland that is left untreated may prevent your kidneys from working correctly. You may also develop kidney stones or congestive heart failure. These conditions can become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.