Primary Hyperparathyroidism

About 100,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism each year.

Women and men of all ages can develop this condition. It tends to affect women more often than men and is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 50 to 60.

The parathyroid specialists at Henry Ford Health System have many years of experience diagnosing primary hyperparathyroidism. Patients from throughout the Detroit area and beyond turn to us for expert treatment.

What is primary hyperparathyroidism?

Primary hyperparathyroidism occurs when one or more of the parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). When the glands release too much PTH, calcium levels in the body become too high.

Left untreated, primary hyperparathyroidism can lead to serious complications, including osteoporosis and kidney stones.

What causes primary hyperparathyroidism?

In most cases, primary hyperparathyroidism results from a growth on one or more of the parathyroid glands. The tumor causes the gland to overproduce parathyroid hormone.

This growth is nearly always noncancerous. But in extremely rare cases, primary hyperparathyroidism is a sign of parathyroid cancer.

Primary hyperparathyroidism sometimes runs in families. If you have close relatives with the disease, you may be at higher risk.

What are the symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism?

People with this condition may experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle and bone aches and pain

How do we diagnose primary hyperparathyroidism?

Symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism can be similar to those of other conditions. That’s why some patients may have the disease for a long time before receiving an accurate diagnosis.

A diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism is based on comprehensive blood tests measuring parathyroid hormone and calcium levels. Elevated calcium, combined with high or abnormal PTH levels, indicate that one or more parathyroid glands are overactive.

After diagnosing primary hyperparathyroidism, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound, parathyroid scan or CT scan. These imaging tests help determine how many and which parathyroid glands may be causing the problem.

How do we treat primary hyperparathyroidism?

Not everyone with primary hyperparathyroidism needs surgery. Patients with mild disease and no symptoms may choose to monitor their condition. At Henry Ford, our parathyroid surgeons work closely with endocrinologists to determine the most appropriate treatment for each patient.

If you do need surgery, our parathyroid experts use the most advanced surgical techniques. We customize surgery to safely remove one or more overactive glands. Our high-tech approach means more precise, successful outcomes from parathyroid surgery.

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