Parathyroid disorders

Hyperparathyroidism and high calcium levels

Duke experts treat hyperparathyroidism and remove overactive parathyroid glands, including benign and cancerous parathyroid tumors. We are one of the nation’s few centers where minimally invasive parathyroid surgery is performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. Our minimally invasive approach results in less pain and faster recovery with fewer side effects when compared to conventional parathyroid surgery.

Expert treatment for hyperparathyroidism and high calcium levels

High levels of calcium in your blood may signal the presence of hyperparathyroidism, which is associated with overactive or enlarged parathyroid glands. In very rare cases, extremely high calcium levels may also signal parathyroid cancer. If your hyperparathyroidism requires treatment or parathyroid cancer is suspected, surgery is usually recommended. Our surgeons are nationally recognized for their experience in removing overactive parathyroid glands, as well as benign and cancerous parathyroid tumors.

Choose Duke for your parathyroid disorder treatment because we offer:

  • Minimally invasive parathyroid surgery for primary hyperparathyroidism. We are one of the few places in the country where surgeons use small, 2- to 3-centimeter incisions to remove the overactive parathyroid gland or tumor under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. You may go home the same day and experience fewer complications related to anesthesia, including vomiting, nausea and sore throat when compared to conventional parathyroidectomy.
  • Faster recovery, less pain. Our patients experience fast recovery times, less pain, return to work/life quickly and have minimal chance of experiencing significant side effects such as hoarseness or low calcium levels. Research shows that patients who undergo minimally invasive parathyroid surgery experience excellent long-term cure rates which are comparable to patients who undergo traditional, more invasive parathyroid surgery. 
  • Sophisticated pre-operative imaging. We use 4-D Computed Tomography (CT) imaging -- available at only a handful of centers in the country -- to locate hard-to-find parathyroid glands before surgery. For the rare occasions where parathyroid glands are located in hard-to-reach areas, such as the chest, we work closely with thoracic surgeons using minimal access techniques to remove these glands safely. 
  • Surgical success confirmed in the OR. Our surgeons use a 10-minute hormone test during surgery to confirm the success of the operation. Surgeons may also use a gamma probe to detect low-level radioactive tracers that accumulate in overactive parathyroid glands. The probe detects the radioactivity and confirms whether the surgeon has removed the entire affected area.
  • Parathyroid tissue banking (cryopreservation) We are one of the handful centers in the country to freeze and bank parathyroid tissue for patients who require the complete removal of their parathyroid glands and have undergone parathyroid autotransplant. If the first transplant fails, the preserved tissue can be transplanted again. This gives you an important safety net. 
  • Special expertise in treating pregnant women. A diagnosis of hyperparathyroidism during pregnancy can be scary. We specialize in its successful and safe treatment in pregnant women.
  • Genetic counseling and screening. Genetic counseling and screening are available to you and your family members with potentially inherited forms of hyperthyroidism.