Diagnosis and Treatment of Parathyroid Disease
Diagnosis of parathyroid diseases is made on the basis of blood tests for parathyroid hormone, calcium, and phosphate. Other tests may be carried out to assess the level of damage the disease has done to other parts of the body, such as the bones. After diagnosis, the patient’s condition is monitored with regular blood tests for calcium, phosphorous, phosphate, vitamin D, bone density, and serum albumin, depending on the disease involved.
Treatment for parathyroid diseases involves both immediate and long-term treatment to manage the symptoms. In addition the underlying cause of the disease must be treated.
Severe hypoparathyroidism is a potentially fatal disease, and is generally treated as soon as possible after diagnosis. Initial treatment involves administration of intravenous calcium to immediately restore safe blood calcium levels. Long term treatment includes supplements of calcium and Vitamin D. Synthetic parathyroid hormone is a treatment option for some people.
In the case of hyperparathyroidism, long-term management of side effects such as osteoporosis must be considered in addition to treatment of the disease itself. If surgery is not necessary the patient is monitored with regular blood tests, and is also counseled on dietary modifications to regulate calcium levels.
In some cases, when the cause of the disease is cancer, the tumor may be removed while leaving the glands intact. Often the most effective treatment is to remove the parathyroid glands; in these cases the patient must afterwards take supplemental calcium and vitamin D to prevent dangerously low blood calcium levels.