This operation is required if the imaging tests, outlined in a previous section, have not been able to locate the abnormal parathyroid gland. This occurs in around 25% of cases.
Open parathyroidectomy is usually performed under general anaesthetic and involves a horizontal scar across the lower part of the neck. Mr Hardy always makes the scar as small as possible, often 4-5cm in length, and placed along a crease line in the skin whenever possible. These factors ensure that for most patients the scar will fade to a barely visible white line over time. In addition I have never yet used drains (tubes coming through the skin near the wound) in parathyroid surgery.
Both sides of the neck are explored, and the abnormal gland or glands are removed, curing the high calcium levels.
Parathyroid surgery is very safe. Any operation has the potential to lead to complications, however. These complications are outlined in a later section. There is, furthermore, evidence to suggest that complications are less likely to occur in operations performed by specialist surgeons who perform such surgery frequently.