A parathyroid adenoma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor of the parathyroid glands, which are located in the neck.
The parathyroid glands in the neck help control calcium use and removal by the body. They do this by producing parathyroid hormone, or PTH. PTH helps control calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D levels within the blood and bone.
Parathyroid adenomas can be due to a genetic problem. Parathyroid adenoma is the most common cause of hyperparathyroidism, which leads to increased blood calcium levels.
Women over 60 have the highest risk for developing this condition. Radiation to your head or neck also increases your risk.
Many people have no symptoms. The condition is often discovered accidentally when blood tests are done for another medical reason.
Symptoms that may occur include the following:
Exams and Tests
Blood tests are done to check the levels of parathyroid hormone, calcium, phosphorus, chloride, and bicarbonate.
A 24-urine test is done to check for increased calcium in the urine.
Other tests include:
- Bone density exam
- Kidney x-rays (may show kidney stones)
- MRI or sestamibi neck scan (may show swelling of the parathyroid glands)
- Neck ultrasound
- Kidney ultrasound or CT (may show kidney stones)
Surgery is the most common treatment. However, if you have mild hyperparathyroidism, you may just need regular checkups with your doctor.
Estrogen replacement can help relieve symptoms and prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women.
The outlook is generally good.
Osteoporosis and the increased risk for bone fractures is the most common concern.
Other complications are less common, but may include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this condition.
Wysolmerski JJ, Insogna KL. The parathyroid glands, hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia. In: Kronenberg HM, Schlomo M, Polansky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap. 266.
Bringhurst FR, Demay MB, Kronenberg HM. Disorders of mineral metabolism. In: Kronenberg HM, Schlomo M, Polansky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap. 27.
A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Elizabeth, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (8/31/2010).
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