Located within the thyroid gland are four tiny glands called parathyroid glands. These glands, each only about the size of a grain of rice, produce a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH) that helps control calcium and phosphorous levels in the body, and is necessary for proper bone development.
Sometimes a tumor can develop in one (or more) of the glands and as a result the levels of calcium can go up in the blood. This is called a parathyroid adenoma. This can cause many symptoms including:
- Bone pain
- Kidney stones
- Increased urination
The diagnosis for this problem can go missed for many years. Two blood tests – a serum calcium level and a parathyroid hormone level (PTH level) – can help to diagnose this problem. If you are diagnosed with a parathyroid adenoma your physician may order a neck ultrasound and a test called a sestamibi scan. These tests help identify which one or ones of the four glands has the tumor. Once diagnosed the best treatment is to remove the affected gland surgically.
Some patients on dialysis may have problems with parathyroid function and may require surgery to help reduce calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood.
Parathyroid conditions treated at the Northern Alberta Endocrine Surgery Centre are the following: