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Pancreatitis is accepted as an uncommon complication of parathyroid surgery, but it has been suggested that up to 35% of patients may experience hyperamylasaemia after parathyroidectomy indicating subclinical inflammation of the pancreas. A series of 26 patients undergoing parathyroidectomy were studied by preoperative biochemical analyses repeated 24 and 48 h postoperatively allowing changes in calcium metabolism and serum and urinary amylase levels to be documented. Of the patients, 21 also underwent a CT scan of the pancreas between 24 and 48 h after operation. Despite highly significant changes in serum parathormone, calcium and phosphate levels postoperatively, there was no evidence in any patient of acute pancreatic inflammation or hyperamylasaemia. Twenty-one patients underwent unilateral neck exploration, and we suggest that the absence of any detectable amylase elevation supports the suggestion that such elevation may reflect an increase in salivary isoamylase as a result of extensive neck dissection, rather than reflecting a subclinical pancreatitis. The development of postparathyroidectomy pancreatitis appears to be an all or nothing phenomenon of unknown aetiology.


Journal article


Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Publication Date





102 - 106


Department of Surgery, Leicester Royal Infirmary.


Humans, Pancreatitis, Hyperparathyroidism, Acute Disease, Phosphates, Calcium, Parathyroid Hormone, Amylases, Parathyroidectomy, Postoperative Period, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Female, Male