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Surgery to remove parathyroid glands is the mainstay of treatment for patients who have hyperparathyroidism. This is a rare condition of the glands that secrete parathyroid hormone (PTH), which influences blood calcium levels.
A new, minimally invasive procedure offers patients significant advantages.
How minimally invasive hyperparathyroidism surgery works
To treat hyperparathyroidism, a surgical oncologist removes the parathyroid gland. The parathyroids are actually four glands. In nearly all cases only one gland is affected and your doctor can leave the unaffected glands intact.
Previously, doctors couldn't tell before surgery which of the four glands was cancerous so they would make multiple large incisions and explore the entire gland area in the neck to find the tumors.
Advanced tumor localization Today, doctors can use a sestimibi scan before surgery to image the gland and do an intra operative parathyroid hormone level during surgery to ascertain that the gland has been removed.
Furthermore, doctors at the Stanford Cancer Center have pioneered the use of high resolution ultrasound imaging before surgery to provide an additional layer of localization that facilitates ever greater accuracy during surgery.
Directed surgery By knowing exactly where the tumors are, your surgical oncologist can make dramatically smaller incisions and avoid exploratory work that can damage important nerves in the neck area.
In fact, results with this directed surgery are slightly better than with the larger more invasive exploratory surgery because the imaging helps doctors pinpoint the tumors.
Faster, easier surgery This surgery is also called minimally invasive parathryoidectomy (MIP), because it is so directed and minimally invasive it can usually done in under and hour with local or general anesthesia.
This means that your surgery and recovery are faster and less painful, and makes the treatment more available to people who may not be healthy enough to withstand the exploratory surgery.
Hyperparathyroidism is extremely rare, therefore not all surgeons are familiar with the newer form of minimally invasive surgery. However, like all surgeries, the success of an MIP is related to physician experience with the technique. The Stanford Cancer Center is a small number of centers in the nation with significant experience performing this procedure.
By consulting with our surgical oncologists you can be assured that if you are an appropriate candidate for minimally invasive hyperparathyroidism surgery, you will receive it. Furthermore, our experience allows us to provide you with the reliable, compassionate, and quality care that is essential when you are facing cancer.