Sleeping parathyroid tumor: Rapid hyperfunction after removal of the dominant tumor

Sahzene Yavuz, William F. Simonds, Lee S. Weinstein, Michael T. Collins, Electron Kebebew, Naris Nilubol, Giao Q. Phan, Steven K. Libutti, Alan T. Remaley, Manuel Van Deventer, Stephen J. Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Context: Due to frequent multiplicity of tumors in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, it may be difficult to decide when to stop a parathyroid exploration. A fall of intraoperative serum PTH by a certain percentage during parathyroid surgery is often used as one criterion for ending the operation. Results: We report two patients with primary hyperparathyroidism due to multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1whohad their first parathyroidectomy at the National Institutes of Health. In both cases, two and a half glands were removed, an extensive search was done for an occult parathyroid tumor, and intraoperative PTH decreased markedly to the lower limits of normal, suggesting a successful operation. Despite this, both patients became hypercalcemic within 3 d after the operation and showed persistent primary hyperparathyroidism. Detailed findings suggest the following course: chronic hypercalcemia had caused near total suppression of PTH secretion by an undiscovered parathyroid tumor (sleeping parathyroid tumor). When the hypercalcemia decreased after surgery due to the removal of the dominant parathyroid tumor(s), the abnormal yet previously suppressed tumor rapidly began to oversecrete PTH and thus caused postoperative hypercalcemia. Conclusions: Even a fall of the intraoperative PTH to the lower limits of the normal range cannot guarantee that removal of all parathyroid tumors has been complete in cases with multiple tumors. These findings likely reflect strikingly differing PTH secretory functions among distinct tumors in the same patient, with hypercalcemia at least from a dominant tumor suppressing PTH secretion by one or more other parathyroid tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1834-1841
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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