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Endocrine Surgery

FAQ About Parathyroid Disease

For appointments and information, please call (212) 746-5130

My calcium level is high. What do I need to do?

Typically a high calcium level is associated with a number of disease conditions, the most common being primary hyperparathyroidism. Usually we recommend that if your calcium level is high, your doctor should check the level of your parathyroid hormone, the hormone that regulates your body's calcium level. If this is elevated you should be evaluated by and endocrinologist or endocrine surgeon to determine whether you have an overactive parathyroid gland.

When do I need to get a bone density?

Bone density scans should be obtained in women who have gone through menopause, patients that have recurrent broken bones, and yearly after parathyroid surgery.

How much calcium should I typically take?

In women after menopause and in adults as they get older, probably up to 1200 mg of calcium daily is appropriate.

My doctor told me I had hyperparathyroidism. What does that mean?

This means that you have high calcium in your blood and it is associated with an overactive parathyroid gland. Typically this is not due to too much calcium intake but due to your parathyroid producing too much parathyroid hormone. This excess hormone causes your bones to breakdown calcium faster, leading to early osteoporosis.

What testing needs to be done after they remove my parathyroid?

Prior to parathyroidectomy patients need to get their serum calcium and parathyroid levels checked. They also need to get a neck ultrasound and a nuclear medicine scan (a sestamibi scan) to localize the overactive parathyroid gland. Patients should also get a bone density scan prior to surgery.

How long is my recovery after parathyroid surgery?

After parathyroid surgery, most patients will be able to go home the same day. Recover is very quick and the procedure causes little discomfort. Patients usually resume normal activity within a couple days and some patients return to work within days of the surgery.

Are then any special things I need to do to take care of my scar?

The scars are usually hidden in natural skin folds in the neck and usually heal well. We recommend that patients put SPF 45 sun screen on the scar if in direct sunlight for a year after the operation. Otherwise no special ointments or creams are required.

Are there any activities I should avoid after surgery?

Most patients can resume normal activity within a couple of days of the surgery. We recommend that patients avoid driving until they are comfortable moving their neck in all directions.

Why has my voice has been hoarse since I had parathyroid surgery?

Hoarseness could be associated with bruising or injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve that innervates your voice box. Typically this is a temporary injury that occurs in up to 5 patients per 100. In rare cases, 1 patient in 100 this hoarseness persists for longer than 6 months and is permanent. If your hoarseness last for longer than 6 months we recommend that you are evaluated by an ENT specialists that will look at your vocal cords using direct laryngoscopy.

Why do I get tremors since my parathyroid surgery?

Tremors after parathyroid surgery are probably due to having low calcium levels. This is probably because after removal of one of your parathyroid glands your other glands need a period of time to become functional, and your bones are also probably absorbing more calcium. You should see your doctor to check your calcium level and also take extra calcium in your diet. This is usually temporary and your parathyroids typically recover within a month.

How much calcium should I take after surgery?

Patients usually should take 1200 mg of calcium after surgery for life, with Vitamin D supplementation. You should also get your calcium and parathyroid hormone levels checked within 6 month of the surgery and yearly thereafter. You should also get a bone density scan yearly after surgery as most patients' re-accumulate bone mass after surgery.

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