Benefits of Parathyroid Surgery | UCLA Endocrine Center

Hi, I'm Dr. Michael Yeh from UCLA Endocrine Surgery. Today, we're going to talk about the benefits of parathyroid surgery.

The most common cause of high calcium in the blood is a condition called primary hyperparathyroidism. This is most often seen in women over the age of 50. In this condition, one or more of the parathyroid glands makes too much hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH). Too much PTH slowly removes calcium from our bones. Over time, primary hyperparathyroidism leads to loss of bone density, also known as osteoporosis. You may know that osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures.

Once bone mineral density is lost, it can be hard to get back. However, after successful parathyroid surgery, people actually gain bone density for two to five years. Parathyroid surgery also reduces the risk of developing kidney stones. These are the main benefits of undergoing parathyroid surgery. In fact, if we perform 10 parathyroid operations, which we may do in a single day here at UCLA, we will prevent one major fracture.

One of the top questions we hear from patients with primary hyperparathyroidism is: Will I feel better after parathyroid surgery?” The answer is: Probably a little, but please do not expect a miracle cure. Many patients with primary hyperparathyroidism feel tired, forgetful, and achy. But because these symptoms have many possible causes, it would not be correct to place all the blame on the parathyroid glands, as tempting as that may be. Up to two-thirds of our patients feel better after surgery, and the remaining ones feel about the same. But the good news is that everybody enjoys better bone health. Please see our other video on the signs and symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism for more information.

A deeper look into the benefits of Parathyroid Surgery

Key Insights:

  • Loss of Bone Density: 
    Loss of bone density is the most important consequence of primary hyperparathyroidism, leading to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. Parathyroid surgery reverses this bone loss and improves bone health.
  • Kidney Stones: 
    Kidney stones are a common complication of high blood calcium levels. Parathyroid surgery reduces the risk of developing kidney stones, improving overall health.
  • How will I feel after surgery: 
    While not all patients experience immediate symptom relief after parathyroid surgery, the majority report feeling better. The changes people most often observe are increased energy levels, reduced bone and joint pain, and less frequent nighttime urination. Improved bone health is a significant benefit for all patients.
  • Diagnosing Primary Hyperparathyroidism: 
    The diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism rests on blood and sometimes urine tests, with the key feature being high blood calcium levels. Symptoms such as fatigue, impaired cognition and memory, and musculoskeletal pain can be attributed to primary hyperparathyroidism or a number of other causes. In other words, these symptoms are nonspecific. Though some people experience improvement in quality of life indicators after parathyroid surgery, it is not universal.  Overall, patients who undergo parathyroid surgery for primary hyperparathyroidism experience improved health in several domains, most notably with respect to improved bone density.

Find your care

We deliver effective, minimally invasive treatments in a caring environment. Call 310-267-7838 to connect with an expert in endocrine surgery.

Find a provider | Request an appointment | Our locations