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Endocr Pract. 2012 Sep-Oct;18(5):781-90. doi: 10.4158/EP12166.RA.

Primary hyperparathyroidism.

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Metabolic Bone Diseases Unit, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.



To review primary hyperparathyroidism and the key issues that are relevant to the practicing endocrinologist.


The latest information on the presentation, diagnosis, and traditional and nontraditional aspects of primary hyperparathyroidism is reviewed.


The diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism is straightforward when the traditional hypercalcemic patient is documented to have an elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) level. Commonly, patients are identified who have normal serum calcium levels but elevated PTH levels in whom no secondary causes for hyperparathyroidism can be confirmed. Traditional target organs of primary hyperparathyroidism-the skeleton and the kidneys-continue to be a focus in the patient evaluation. Bone mineral density shows a typical pattern of involvement with the distal one-third radius being selectively reduced compared with the lumbar spine in which bone mineral density is generally well maintained. Neurocognitive and cardiovascular aspects of primary hyperparathyroidism, while a focus of recent interest, have not been shown to definitively aid in the decision for or against surgery. The recommendation for surgery in primary hyperparathyroidism is based on guidelines that focus on the serum calcium level, renal function, bone mineral density, and age. In patients who do not meet guidelines, a nonsurgical management approach has merit.


Primary hyperparathyroidism is continuing to show changes in its clinical profile, with normocalcemic primary hyperparathyroidism being a topic of great interest. Skeletal and renal features of primary hyperparathyroidism drive, in most cases, the decision to recommend surgery. In patients who do not meet any criteria for surgery, a conservative approach with appropriate monitoring is acceptable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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