Parathyroid glands can be found behind the thyroid in the lower neck. Do not get confused with the name and location of the gland; its function is entirely different from the thyroid.
If you suffer from parathyroid disease, you may experience muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, lethargy, and drowsiness. It throws off the level of calcium in one’s blood.
A minimally invasive parathyroid surgery option is available to treat this disease. The article will look at different aspects of parathyroid, symptoms, what to expect during surgery, and recovery.
- What are Parathyroid Glands?
- What are the Symptoms of Parathyroid Disease?
- What is Minimally Invasive Parathyroidectomy?
- How to Prepare for the Surgery?
- What Happens During Surgery?
- What is the Recovery Process After Hyperparathyroidism Surgery?
What are Parathyroid Glands?
The two sets of small, pea-sized glands located in the lower part of the neck, next to the thyroid gland, are parathyroids. The glands get their name from their location because their function was not known yet.
These glands are responsible for controlling the level of calcium in the blood. Calcium is a nutrient that plays a pivotal role in the human body. Almost every cell utilizes the nutrient in some form or other.
The body needs to maintain the level of calcium within a narrow range. In the case of low calcium levels, these glands release parathyroid hormone (PTH) that informs the bones to release calcium into the blood. These glands also help regulate vitamin D in the body.
When the glands start creating more PTH than required, patients are diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism.
What are the Symptoms of Parathyroid Disease?
Common signs of parathyroid disease:
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Feeling constantly tired or old
- Memory issues
- Poor sleep cycle
- Easily irritable
- Gastrointestinal problems like constipation, heartburn, acid reflux
- Excessive urination
Advanced signs of parathyroid disease:
- Bone fractures
- Kidney stones
- High stomach acidity
- Mental status change
What is Minimally Invasive Parathyroidectomy?
Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy (MIP) is a surgery that can be completed within 20 minutes under local anesthesia. It involves a small incision not to disturb the endocrine system, keep scarring minimal, and safely remove the abnormal gland.
MIP poses reduced risks to vocal cord nerves and trauma to neck tissues. In addition, with local anesthesia, short surgery time, and faster recovery, you are good to leave the hospital the same day.
How to Prepare for the Surgery?
If you are undergoing parathyroidectomy, stop taking over-the-counter medicines like Ibuprofen or Aspirin a week before the surgery. If you develop any illness, please consult with the doctor before taking any medication.
Before the day of the planned surgery, ensure you have your dinner before midnight. Do not eat anything post that. You can have water or clear liquids.
On the day of the surgery, make sure to reach the hospital on time.
What Happens During Surgery?
The below steps are followed during the parathyroid surgery:
- PTH level testing is done right before the surgery.
- Once the patient arrives and lays flat on the table, they are given an intravenous sedative and local anesthesia.
- Next, the skin is cleaned, sterilized, and prepped for surgery.
- During the surgery, an incision less than an inch is made.
- The muscles over the thyroid are exposed and then are separated to locate the abnormal parathyroid.
- Once the abnormal gland is located, it is removed, and the blood vessels are cauterized.
- The PTH levels are again checked to ensure the level has gone down by at least 50% and stays low.
- The surgeon confirms there is no bleeding from the vessels. Then the separated muscles are brought back over the thyroid with a suture.
- The multiple layers of the skin are closed with absorbable sutures, and a steri-strip is placed for added protection.
Post-surgery completion, the patient is taken to the recovery room. Patients can usually leave the hospital in an hour.
What is the Recovery Process After Hyperparathyroidism Surgery?
After the surgery, you need to be careful for the first few weeks. Avoid engaging in strenuous exercises, lifting weights, or extreme cardio. Instead, stick to daily walking to help improve blood flow.
Some patients experience discomfort swallowing food right after the surgery. It would be best for the first 24 hours if you consumed soft and bland foods. They will be easy on your throat and also your stomach.
The pain after a MIP is usually minimal. But, if the pain or discomfort is too much for you to handle, consult with the doctor for appropriate medication.
When looking for a doctor to perform parathyroid surgery, ensure they have experience dealing with such cases. Ask about the minimally invasive procedure as it is a less risky, less painful, and safer alternative. Book an appointment, sit with the doctor, and understand the risks, complications, tests reports, surgery process, and recovery.