Definition: one of two small paired endocrine glands, superior and inferior, usually found embedded in the connective tissue capsule on the posterior surface of the thyroid gland; they secrete parathyroid hormone that regulates metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. The parenchyma is composed of chief and oxyphilic cells arranged in anastomosing cords. Inadvertent removal of all parathyroid glands, as during thyroidectomy, produces tetany and may be fatal in the absence of hormone replacement therapy.
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