Hyperparathyroidism (HPT) is common in patients on dialysis, and parathyroidectomy (PTx) is often required. We present a retrospective, descriptive analysis of data corresponding to 148 patients on dialysis undergoing PTx due to severe refractory HPT (PTH 1401 +/- 497 pg/mL, Ca 10.6 +/- 0.8 mg/dL, P 6.9 +/- 1.7 mg/dL). Demographic data were compared with those recorded in 309 patients on dialysis not subjected to PTx who were managed at the same hospital. In the PTx group, the factors age (49.3 +/- 14 years), male gender (48.6%), and diabetes (0.7%) were significantly lower than in the non-PTx group (61.5 +/- 14.9 years, male gender 59%, diabetes 19.4%), while time on dialysis was longer (8.6 +/- 5.8 vs. 5.5 +/- 5.4 years). In 129 of the study patients (87.4%), four or more glands were identified, and total PTx plus autotransplantation (AT) in the forearm was performed. In the remaining 19 patients, two to three glands were identified, and AT was not undertaken. Four of the 19 patients were successfully operated on again for persistent HPT, seven showed PTH levels <250 pg/mL, and eight maintained severe HPT. Perioperative complications included one death due to cardiac insufficiency, two repeat operations due to bleeding, and one patient with chronic hoarseness. Hospital stay was prolonged in 20% of patients due to a hungry bone syndrome. Among those patients with PTx and AT, HPT recurred in 21 patients (16.2%) at 3.1 +/- 2.3 years. In 13 of these patients, autograft was removed at 7.5 +/- 2.9 years. Serum calcium and phosphate levels improved after PTx, and these results were maintained for 5 years (9.6 +/- 0.8 and 4.2 +/- 1.2 mg/dL, respectively). In conclusion, PTx with AT is a safe option for the treatment of severe HPT that is accompanied by low morbidity and mortality and a good outcome. Medical treatment should not be prolonged at the expense of long repeated bouts of hypercalcemia and/or hyperphosphatemia with their irreversible consequences.