Minimally invasive parathyroid surgery

Duke is one of the nation’s few centers to treat primary hyperparathyroidism with minimally invasive parathyroid surgery in an outpatient setting, often under local anesthesia. Our minimally invasive approach results in less pain and faster recovery with fewer side effects when compared to conventional parathyroid surgery.

Small incisions, faster recovery

Surgery is the first-line treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism and has cure rates in excess of 95%. Conventional parathyroid surgery requires a large neck incision so surgeons can view all four parathyroid glands in order to identify the gland that needs to be removed.

Now, sophisticated imaging technology before surgery, and fast biomedical testing during surgery, makes it possible for our surgeons to pinpoint the overactive parathyroid gland for removal, and remove it through through one-inch incisions. The new procedure is often performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. You may go home the same day and experience fewer complications related to anesthesia such as vomiting, nausea and sore throat when compared to conventional parathyroidectomy. The smaller incisions minimize scarring and create a more cosmetically pleasing result.

Not every patient with parathyroid disease is a candidate for the minimally invasive approach. We have performed thousands of parathyroidectomies. We have the expertise to assess your specific condition, and recommend the best approach to meet your individual needs.

Choose Duke for your minimally invasive parathyroid surgery because we offer:

  • Less pain, excellent long-term cure rates. 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 tracer and confirms whether the surgeon has removed the affected area.

Surgical options


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