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What Should I Do after a Parathyroidectomy?

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  • Written By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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Parathyroidectomy surgery involves the removal of the parathyroid glands in the neck. The surgery is relatively uncomplicated, and patients may not have to stay overnight in hospital. After a parathyroidectomy, recovery is generally fast, but patients may have to take calcium supplements. Some procedures necessitate stitches, which must be kept clean and removed when the wound heals.

The parathyroid glands are located in the neck and control the concentration of calcium in the blood system. Usually, there are four glands. Sometimes, the glands produce too much hormone, thereby adversely affecting calcium levels and causing problems such as kidney stones, osteoporosis, and fatigue. Otherwise harmless tumors can enlarge the glands and cause them to act abnormally. A doctor may remove one gland or remove all but one-half of one gland to help control the hormone levels in the body.

One or more small incisions are generally sufficient for the surgeon to perform the surgery. The nature of the surgery means that, after a parathyroidectomy, patients often do not require overnight stays in the hospital. Some procedures do not require stitches, but others use a stitch in the wound, which you need to have removed a few days after the operation.

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Immediately after a parathyroidectomy, your neck may have a drainage tube in it for a day or more, and you may have to wear a drip. For a day or two after the procedure, it is not recommended for you to eat solid foods. The removal of the glands can also cause low blood calcium, so you may have to go to the doctor for frequent blood samples. If you feel symptoms of low calcium, such as muscle cramps or tingling of the mouth, the doctor may recommend that you take regular calcium supplements.

Until the suture is removed, you have to keep the area clean and dry to reduce the chance of infection. If infection does occur, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics, which you should take as per his or her instructions. Aspirin can reduce the ability of the blood to clot, so you may have to avoid aspirin directly after the surgery for a few days. You can usually return to work within a few weeks.

After a parathyroidectomy, patients take up to three weeks to heal, although the doctor may advise that you keep the wound from direct sun exposure for six months. You may have to attend a six-week checkup, which involves another calcium blood test. The doctor may also recommend that you have yearly checkups for five years after the procedure.

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