Primary hyperparathyroidism: how many cases are being missed?

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    INTRODUCTION: Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is a common condition (250 per million population per year) with significant associated morbidity and mortality. Surgery is the only curative option for PHPT; results from medical treatment remain disappointing. The aim of this study was to evaluate the referral patterns of patients with PHPT and identify the number of missed cases with a biochemical diagnosis of PHPT.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: All chemistries for Worcestershire were performed and analysed at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. Patients with chronic renal failure were identified and excluded. Routes of patient referral were identified and missed cases documented. General practitioners (GPs) were contacted by letter for all patients not referred or treated. Outcomes of diagnosis and specialist assessment were recorded.

    RESULTS: A total of 102 cases of PHPT were identified: 64 (62.7%) remained untreated and without a specialist referral in place, 36 (35.3%) had undergone parathyroidectomy and 2 (2.0%) were being monitored. The GP response rate was 90% (46/51). Of these, 30 (65%) were subsequently referred, 9 (20%) underwent repeat tests with a view to referral and 7 (15%) were lost to follow up.

    CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of patients with PHPT remain in the community untreated and having not seen a specialist. All patients should be referred to a specialist for assessment and consideration of surgical treatment and follow-up. Improvements in GP education and referral systems are required if patients are to benefit.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)294-6
    Number of pages3
    JournalAnnals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011


    • Adult
    • Delayed Diagnosis
    • England
    • Family Practice
    • Humans
    • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary
    • Middle Aged
    • Parathyroidectomy
    • Referral and Consultation


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