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Hypercalcemia/Parathyroid disorders

Hypercalcemia, or elevated blood level of calcium, is commonly found on routine blood tests. Most often, hypercalcemia is due to hyperparathyroidism, or elevated levels of parathyroid hormone. A variety of other diseases can also cause hypercalcemia.

Usually there are four parathyroid glands located in the neck, around the thyroid gland. Normally these parathyroid glands are about the size of a grain of rice. These glands produce parathyroid hormone, which regulates the amount of calcium in the blood.

One of the parathyroid glands can be enlarged and produce excessive parathyroid hormone leading to elevated serum calcium. Sometimes more than one gland is enlarged, and all four glands can be involved in producing excessive parathyroid hormone.

Symptoms of parathyroid disease might be very mild and non-specific, but can be severe. Symptoms may include worsening osteoporosis and fractures, kidney stones, abdominal pains, fatigue, depression, and bone and joint pain.

The role of the Endocrinologist is to diagnose the cause of hypercalcemia, and recommend appropriate treatment.

The typical treatment for parathyroid disease includes surgical removal of one or more of the parathyroid glands. Surgery is not always necessary at the time of diagnosis. Patients can often be safely observed for some time with no significant consequences without surgery.

Elevated levels of parathyroid hormone can also be due to other diseases, particularly decreased kidney function.

Our team of experts is experienced in managing patients with simple and complex parathyroid disorders. We can help decide if and when surgery is needed for patients with parathyroid disease and we are able to recommend medical treatments to help minimize problems from parathyroid disease.

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