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Healthcare: Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Parathyroidectomy

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Parathyroid glands
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The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands located on the back of the thyroid gland, which is in the neck. They make parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH helps control the amount of calcium in the body.

Parathyroidectomy is the removal of one or more of the four parathyroid glands in the neck.

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What happens before surgery?

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Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.

Tell your doctors ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.

If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.

Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.

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Parathyroidectomy: What to expect at home — your recovery

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Following surgery, you will not have any visible stitches in the cut the doctor made (incision). There will be stitches on the inside that will dissolve on their own over time so that they do not need to be removed. Your incision may have protective surgical glue over it. If so this will also dissolve on its own in about 2 weeks. You will NOT have a tube called a drain in the neck. This is rarely if ever needed for parathyroid surgery.

You may have some tenderness when swallowing after you go home. Your voice might be hoarse, for a few days. For most people, these problems get better within a few weeks, but it can take longer. It is uncommon, but in about 1-3% of cases, this surgery causes permanent problems with speaking or swallowing.

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