Is routine supplementation therapy (calcium and vitamin D) useful after total thyroidectomy?

Surgery. 2002 Dec;132(6):1109-12; discussion 1112-3. doi: 10.1067/msy.2002.128617.


Background: Our goal was to determine whether routine oral calcium (OC) and vitamin D (VD) administration can effectively prevent symptoms of hypocalcemia after total thyroidectomy.

Methods: Seventy-nine patients who underwent total thyroidectomy were randomly allotted to one of the following groups: (1) group A, no treatment; (2) group B, OC 3 g per day; (3) group C, OC 3 g + VD 1 mg per day. Treatment was started on postoperative (PO) day 1 in groups B and C.

Results: Fewer patients in groups B and C experienced symptoms when compared with group A (P =.005). Patients in groups B and C had only minor symptoms, whereas 2 patients in group A experienced major symptoms and 6 required intravenous calcium (P <.01). The rate of hypocalcemia was slightly lower in group C (P = not significant). Treatment was discontinued by PO day 7 in all but 8 patients. Two patients still required treatment 6 months after operation (2.5%). PO parathyroid hormone levels did not differ in the 3 groups (P = not significant).

Conclusions: Routine supplementation therapy with OC or VD effectively prevents symptomatic hypocalcemia after total thyroidectomy and may allow for a safe early discharge. Further studies are necessary to determine the best treatment. The combination of OC and VD may further reduce the rate of PO hypocalcemia, without inhibiting parathyroid hormone secretion.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Female
  • Goiter, Nodular / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hypocalcemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypocalcemia / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium