Multiple Ectopic Parathyroid Glands

Maxwell, Robert; Carter, W. Bradford; Perry, Roger R.; Smith, Ray M.
November 2000
American Surgeon;Nov2000, Vol. 66 Issue 11, p1028
Academic Journal
Parathyroid surgery to correct primary hyperparathyroidism is successful in 80 to 97 per cent of initial explorations. Failures are often linked to inability to locate ectopic parathyroid glands. Although ectopic parathyroid glands are relatively common (15%) multiple ectopic glands are rarely reported. We describe a case of multiple ectopic parathyroid glands and the intraoperative approach to their localization and review the anatomy and embryology of ectopic parathyroid glands. A 39-year-old woman presented with fatigue, lethargy, and depression. On biochemical evaluation she was noted to be hypercalcemic and hyperparathyroid. Preoperative parathyroid localization failed to identify abnormal parathyroid glands. At exploration three of four parathyroid glands, including an adenoma, were located in ectopic positions by a meticulous and systematic dissection. A careful exploration coupled with a thorough knowledge of parathyroid anatomy and embryology will produce successful surgical correction of primary hyperparathyroidism in greater than 95 per cent of patients even in the few patients with multiple ectopic parathyroid glands.


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