BACKGROUND: Hypoparathyroidism (hypoPT) is the most common complication after bilateral thyroid operations. Thyroid surgeons must employ strategies for minimizing and preventing post-thyroidectomy hypoPT. The objective of this American Thyroid Association Surgical Affairs Committee Statement is to provide an overview of its diagnosis, prevention and treatment.SUMMARY: HypoPT occurs when a low intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) level is accompanied by hypocalcemia. Risk factors for post-thyroidectomy hypoPT include bilateral thyroid operations, autoimmune thyroid disease, central neck dissection, substernal goiter, surgeon inexperience, and malabsorptive conditions. Medical and surgical strategies to minimize perioperative hypoPT include optimizing vitamin D levels, preserving parathyroid blood supply, and autotransplanting ischemic parathyroid glands. Measurement of intraoperative or early postoperative intact PTH levels following thyroidectomy can help guide patient management. In general, a postoperative PTH level <15 pg/mL indicates increased risk for acute hypoPT. Effective management of mild to moderate potential or actual postoperative hypoPT can be achieved by administering either empiric/prophylactic oral calcium and vitamin D, selective oral calcium and vitamin D based on rapid postoperative PTH level(s), or serial serum calcium levels as a guide. Monitoring for rebound hypercalcemia is necessary to avoid metabolic and renal complications. For more severe hypocalcemia, inpatient management may be necessary. Permanent hypoPT has long term consequences for both objective and subjective well-being, and should be prevented whenever possible.
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