A Answers (2)
James Lee, MD, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, answered on behalf of Columbia University Department of SurgeryThe treatment for an elevated parathyroid hormone level depends on the cause. For patients with primary hyperparathyroidism there is a problem with the parathyroid gland itself and the only chance of curing it is an operation to remove it. On the other hand, patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism have a problem outside the parathyroid like kidney failure or low vitamin D levels that cause the parathyroid glands to be hyperactive. In these cases, fixing the problem can fix the parathyroid levels. See your doctor to figure out which kind of parathyroid problem you have.
Joane Goodroe, Nursing, answered
From Dr. James Norman of the Norman Parathyroid Clinic
Hyperparathyroidism causes symptoms in almost everybody, but sometimes they are quite subtle. It is important for you to understand these few facts about blood calcium:
- It is almost never normal to have a high calcium level in your blood. Said differently, it is almost never for adults over 40 to have persistent calcium levels of 10.2 or higher.
- Almost all patients with high calcium in the blood have a single bad parathyroid gland that is causing it. Your doctor may look for other causes... but the overwhelming odds are that you will end up with parathyroid disease. Persistent calcium levels over 10.1 (in an adult) are almost always a parathyroid tumor.
- An expert in parathyroid surgery can fix this problem in 20 minutes or less. So if your surgeon says that it will take 2 or 3 hours in the operating room... You may want to find an expert surgeon. If he says it may take about 1.5 hours, then you may want to ask if it might take longer--you can be assured that he will say "yes, it could take as long as 4 hours or more". This is why picking your surgeon is the most important step, since the outcomes (cure rates and complications) are directly related to surgeon experience. There is no other area of the body that has such variable anatomy.
- Removing the bad parathyroid tumor will cure the hyperparathyroidism and will make the calcium level go back to normal WITHIN HOURS.
- It is almost unheard of for people to get parathyroid disease (hyperparathyroidism) twice. Said differently, surgery CURES this disease, it is not a TREATMENT for the disease. You should never get this again if you have a surgeon who cures you the first time. If your surgeon can't tell you that his/her cure rate for you will be 97% or higher, then go somewhere else.
- Removing the parathyroid tumor will change the patient's life. It often will make you feel 10 years younger, and literally, change your life.
- Removing the parathyroid tumor will make you live longer (statistically). From a statistical standpoint, patients with hyperparathyroidism die an average of 5-6 years sooner than expected. This is because the incidence of several cancers is increased by 1.8 to 3-fold (breast, colon, kidney, and prostate), the incidence of high blood pressure is 2.5 times higher, stroke is 2 times higher, heart disease is 2.5 times higher.