By Andrew Rhodes, DO
With the way our lives pull us in different directions, it can be difficult to take the time to listen to what our bodies are telling us. Perhaps you have experienced overwhelming fatigue over the last several months that’s caused you to not be yourself. Perhaps you have developed unexplained kidney stones or suffered bone loss or fractures. Maybe you have reflux, constipation or generalized abdominal discomfort, or you are plagued with many of the problems attributed to a life of stress, such as lack of energy, memory or concentration difficulties, insomnia, depression, anxiety, or muscle and joint aches.
Perhaps you are just tired of being tired. If you’re nodding your head “yes” to any of the above, an elevated calcium level may be the culprit. If that’s the case, a minimally invasive surgery procedure can help.
With a simple blood test, we can closely examine the relationship between your calcium and parathyroid hormone levels. When we recognize that your blood calcium is inappropriately elevated with relation to a corresponding inappropriately elevated level of your parathyroid hormone (intact PTH), 85 percent of patients have a single parathyroid gland causing all of the mischief.
The parathyroid glands are your body’s calcium thermostats. We have at least four parathyroid glands, two on each side, which typically sit alongside the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in the neck. Endocrine glands that are hyperfunctioning grow bigger, and thus, preoperative imaging typically provides us with a target lesion to go after and remove to start making you feel better.
The overwhelming majority of these hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands, or adenomas, are benign, meaning noncancerous. With our techniques, we are able to measure your parathyroid hormone levels in the operating room after parathyroid gland removal, so as to confirm an appropriate drop in the hormone, signifying intraoperative cure. Most patients are able to have the surgery and go home the same day.
Patients have reported that in the six months after surgery, they notice a dramatic difference in how they feel. Some patients even report improvement in their sugar control and high blood pressure.
Overall, their energy level returns, they have less muscle and joint aches – they start to feel “normal,” when prior to surgery they didn’t know what normal was.