Hyperparathyroidism (HPT) is a hormonal disorder that occurs when one or more of your four parathyroid glands become enlarged and overactive, causing them to produce excessive amounts of parathyroid hormone (PTH).
Your parathyroid glands, which are about the size of a pea, are located behind the thyroid gland at the front of your neck. They produce PTH, the hormone that maintains the correct levels of calcium in your blood and bones, helps absorb calcium from food and prevents you from losing too much calcium in your urine.
If you have HPT, too much calcium leaves your bones and collects in your blood. This can result in excess bone loss or osteoporosis as well as other problems such as kidney stones and kidney malfunction.
In 85 percent of people with HPT, a benign tumor, called an adenoma, has formed on one of the parathyroid glands, causing it to become overactive. In most other cases, the excess hormone comes from two or more enlarged parathyroid glands, a condition called hyperplasia.
Very rarely, hyperparathyroidism is caused by cancer of a parathyroid gland. About 28 out of 100,000 Americans develop HPT each year. Twice as many women develop this disease and the incidence increases with age.
Our Approach to Hyperparathyroidism
Surgery is the only treatment for hyperparathyroidism, providing a cure in most cases. UCSF is home to a surgery center dedicated to treating parathyroid conditions, including hyperparathyroidism. It is one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation. Our surgeons helped pioneer new diagnostic methods and surgical techniques, including a minimally invasive outpatient procedure to remove parathyroid glands using a small incision and mild sedation.
We strive to make office visits convenient for patients, with services such as in-office ultrasound and coordinated care from endocrine surgeons, endocrinologists and voice specialists.
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UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.