An incision is made in the neck, usually just under the Adam's apple. The 4 parathyroid glands are located and the abnormal parathyroid glands are removed. The incision is then closed.
In a partial parathyroidectomy, 1 to 3 of the glands are removed, leaving one to help prevent the body from producing too little parathyroid hormone (PTH). This condition is called hypoparathyroidism.
In a total parathyroidectomy, all 4 glands are removed. In some cases, the surgeon will implant parathyroid tissue in the forearm muscle of the patient to provide residual parathyroid function.
Update Date 12/10/2012
Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.