Parathyroid Autotransplantation

UW Health endocrine surgeons in Madison, Wisconsin, perform parathyroid autotransplantation in conjunction with total parathyroidectomy for patients with abnormal parathyroid glands.


About Parathyroid Autotransplantation


Parathyroid autotransplantation involves taking parathyroid tissue (either normal or abnormal) and taking it from its normal location and placing it into a muscle bed either in the side of the neck or in the forearm.


The parathyroid tissue is usually cut into one to two-millimeter fragments and is placed in small pockets within the muscle. While the gland does not function immediately, it will develop a new blood supply and will typically start working within 4-6 weeks.


More About the Procedure

  • If all of your parathyroid tissue has been removed and you are relying on an autotransplant for you parathyroid function you will need to take both calcium and calcitriol (activated Vitamin D) until your autotransplant starts functioning.
  • Autotransplantation is usually only done in conjunction with a total parathyroidectomy (removal of all parathyroid tissue). This procedure is performed when all of the parathyroid glands are abnormal, usually in the setting of familial disease. Since all of the glands are abnormal they are all removed from the neck to prevent a recurrence and/or the need for a reoperation in the neck.
  • Since everyone needs some parathyroid tissue, the autotransplant can start functioning (produce parathyroid hormone) to minimize patient symptoms and allow most patients to stop supplemental calcium and calcitriol. In cases where the autotransplant is using abnormal parathyroid tissue, it is usually placed in the arm so that it can be easily accessed in the future if it were to grow and overfunction. If some of the tissue has to be removed in the future this can be done very safely under local anesthesia without the risks of reoperating in the neck.