The parathyroid glands are four, small, grape-shaped glands that are situated in the neck on either side of the trachea and next to the thyroid gland. Your parathyroid glands make and secrete a hormone called parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone controls the level of calcium in your blood.

Parathyroidectomy is the removal of one or more parathyroid glands. Parathyroidectomy is usually performed to treat hyperparathyroidism (abnormal over-functioning of the parathyroid glands).A person usually has four parathyroid glands, although the exact number may vary from three to seven. The glands are located in the neck, in front of the Adam’s apple, and are closely linked to the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands regulate the balance of calcium in the body.

Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy

If your pre-operative procedures identified the position of your parathyroid gland, once the anaesthetic has taken effect the surgeon will mark the skin on your neck over the area where the gland is located. The surgeons will the make an incision over the area marked and find and remove the enlarged parathyroid gland.

Routine Parathyroidectomy

If the pre-operative scans did not identify the position of the parathyroid gland, the surgeon will make a 2 inch cut in a skin crease in the middle of your neck. The surgeon will use this larger cut to explore both sides of the neck and locate and remove the enlarged parathyroid gland. Operation normally takes hardly 1 hour. A drain made of plastic tubing may be placed in the operated site before the incision is closed. Parathyroid hormone levels are drawn in the operating room to confirm the abnormal glands have been removed.

Following the operation you are kept in the theatre recovery area for around 3-4 hours and then returned to the ward. When you wake up, there will be a little drain in your neck with a dressing around it, and a drip in your arm. You will be allowed to drink the same night and the following morning the drip and the drain will be removed. You are encouraged to be as active as possible. Usually on the second day, after your operation, you will be allowed home. As with any surgery, there are risks such as bleeding, infection, or an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Your doctor will inform you of the risks prior to surgery.

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