What you need to know

UW Health doctors are known throughout the nation for their ability to recognize and successfully treat parathyroid disorders. Our team can diagnose and successfully cure parathyroid disease that others don’t realize exists.

Your parathyroid glands are four tiny glands in your neck that produce a hormone that controls calcium levels in your body. If these glands make too much or too little of the hormone, your overall health is affected. Sometimes people think the symptoms are simply due to aging. Over time, though, the symptoms become harder to downplay.

hyperparathyroidism surgeries performed each year
patients in our care for hyperparathyroidism who are cured after their first surgery

Symptoms and diagnosis

Expertise: The key to the right diagnosis

Parathyroid disorders don’t always cause symptoms. Sometimes a blood test alerts your doctor to a problem. On the other hand, you can have a parathyroid disorder even if your blood work appears normal.

Hyperparathyroidism is the most common parathyroid condition. It occurs when you have too much parathyroid hormone. It can cause:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Anxiety

  • Bone pain

  • Constipation

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Frequent urination

  • Headaches

  • Heartburn

  • Joint pain

  • Kidney stones

  • Memory problems

  • Muscle weakness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Palpitations

  • Thinning hair

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Trouble sleeping

At UW Health, we look at symptoms and test results to decide if you could have parathyroid disease. Doctors from around the country refer their patients to us. We also see people who have symptoms that have gone undiagnosed. We see those who think they may have been misdiagnosed as well.

Learn about hyperparathyroidism, its symptoms and treatments offered by UW Health.

Meet our team

Experienced providers make a difference

A group of doctors posing for a photo

We have a team of dedicated surgeons and nurses that focuses on parathyroid disease. Because they see many patients, they’ve developed the highest level of expertise. They’re able to spot problems that less-specialized doctors might miss. And they make sure you get the help you need.

Our providers

Treatments and research

Get expert treatment, get healthy again

Treatment is based on the cause of your disease. If your parathyroid hormone levels are elevated for other reasons, you doctor might suggest medication.

For many parathyroid conditions, surgery is usually required. The surgeries are done to remove enlarged glands and glands with tumors. These tumors are not usually cancerous. Most of these surgeries do not require an overnight stay in the hospital.

Surgical treatments

Find information on surgical treatments for parathyroid disease.

Uses imaging to find and remove a single abnormal gland through a tiny incision.

Through the same small incision, your surgeon can view all four parathyroid glands and only remove those that are enlarged.

Uses a special dye and probe to find problem glands. It may help doctors decide if there’s just one problem gland or more than one.

Uses sound waves to locate an abnormal gland.

Sometimes surgery doesn’t cure parathyroid disease the first time around. Doctors from around the world often refer these patients to us for further treatment.

Parathyroid autotransplantation

In parathyroid autotransplantation, surgeons place some of the parathyroid tissue they’ve removed into the muscles of your forearm. This helps your body maintain a healthy calcium level.

Patients with familial disease or who have had a previous parathyroid operation sometimes need an autotransplant to ensure that you will have adequate amounts of parathyroid tissue to meet your needs.

Genetic testing

Sometimes parathyroid disease runs in families. Our surgeons may recommend that you have genetic testing done to see if your relatives could be at risk. Our genetic counselors guide you through the process. They can help you make sure at-risk family members are tested so they can receive needed treatments early.

Patient stories

Life can be so much better if you get help for parathyroid disease. These patient stories show you how we’ve improved the lives of those in our care.

Near-instant relief

For years, Dawn lived with troubling symptoms such as chronic pain and exhaustion. She didn’t know it then, but her symptoms were related to hyperparathyroidism. After connecting with UW Health and getting treatment, she experienced near-instant relief.

Watch her video

A trip to UW Health was well worth it

For more than a year, Jean had troubling symptoms that kept getting worse. A retired nurse from Illinois, she traveled to UW Health for help with parathyroid disease. Our team’s skill and persistence helped make the trip well worth it.

Read Jean’s story


Help is nearby

To make things easy for you, we offer surgery clinics in Madison, Wis., and Rockford, Ill. Our team will care for you through your diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.

Patient and support services

We know you’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.

When you have a problem that may need surgery, it’s normal to have questions. We take the time to address your concerns and help you understand your treatment. We also offer valuable online tools and resources to help you learn about parathyroid disease.

Patient Q-and-A resources

UW Health webinar recordings

Online resources