Primary hyperparathyroidism: Update on presentation, diagnosis, and management in primary care.
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Objective To discuss the presentation, diagnosis, and management of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) in family medicine. Quality of evidence MEDLINE was searched from 2002 to 2009 using the terms presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of PHPT. Proceedings and guidelines from the Third International Workshop on Primary Hyperparathyroidism in May 2008 were reviewed in detail. Most studies offered level II and III evidence, although there were a number of single randomized controlled trials on PHPT (level I evidence). References from pertinent papers were also searched for relevant articles. Articles most relevant to family medicine and primary care practitioners are presented. Main message Primary hyperparathyroidism is the most common cause of hypercalcemia in outpatients. In the Western world, most patients with PHPT present with nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, mood disturbances, and cognitive impairments. Diagnosis is established when intact parathyroid hormone levels are elevated or at the high end of the normal range in the setting of elevated total or ionized calcium levels (following exclusion of conditions that can mimic PHPT). Criteria for surgery have recently been modified. Surgery is always a suitable option in those with symptomatic PHPT and no contraindications. Those with contraindications or with asymptomatic PHPT not meeting the criteria for surgery can generally be safely monitored and considered for medical management. This might include treatment with bisphosphonates, hormone replacement therapy, raloxifene, or calcimimetic agents; however, there are currently no fracture data for any of these options. Conclusion The definitive therapy for symptomatic and asymptomatic PHPT is parathyroidectomy. In patients with asymptomatic PHPT not meeting the criteria for surgery, monitoring is safe and medical management designed to target skeletal protection or lower serum calcium is a suitable option.
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