Surgery is the only way to treat parathyroid disease (hyperparathyroidism) and there are different approaches to locating and removing the diseased parathyroid glands. Primary hyperparathyroidism is most often caused by tumors in the parathyroid glands. Because there are no medications or pills that work to cure or treat parathyroid problems or high calcium, the parathyroid tumor must be removed by a surgeon. During the standard operation, the surgeon must identify all 4 parathyroid glands and remove the ones which are enlarged, in a process that is called a bilateral neck exploration. An incision is made in the middle to lower portion of the neck and sometimes a surgeon will remove both glands on a single side. This approach has been shown to be safe and effective.
Patients with parathyroid hyperplasia will usually have 3 and a half parathyroid glands removed. Patients may return home the same day of surgery or spend the night in the hospital. There will normally be some pain or discomfort after surgery, like a sore throat or a bad cold, but most patients are able to return to their normal activities in several days.