Minerva Pediatr. 2004 Feb;56(1):125-31.
[Article in English, Italian]


Hyperparathyroidism is a disease characterized by hypercalcemia with hypophosphoremia resulting from increased secretion of parathyroid hormone (PTH). The disease may be divided into 3 forms: a) primary, b) secondary, c) tertiary (secondary refractory form). Primary hyperparathyroidism is rare in children; hyperplasia is more frequent during the early years of life (neonates and infants) and is difficult to distinguish from adenoma in children. The disease may be asymptomatic; elevated calcemia levels (>12 <13.5 mg/dl) are accompanied by anorexia, asthenia and persistent stipsis; severely elevated concentrations (>13.5 mg/dl) are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, polyuria due to osmosis, with dehydration and progressive onset of lethargy, stupor and coma. Osteopenia or osteitis fibrosa cystica may be present due to augmented bone resorption. Height and weight increases are altered due to anorexia and dehydration. Differential diagnosis includes iatrogenic causes of hypercalcemia (excessive vitamin D intake, prolonged immobilization, etc.) and idiopathic familial hypercalcemia. Emergency treatment is required in cases of extremely elevated hypercalcemia (Ca >13.5-14 mg/dl), due to risk of injury to the heart, the central nervous system, the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys. The 4 cardinal points of treatment are: hydration, calciuresis, inhibition of bone calcium resorption, treatment of the cause underlying hyperparathyroidism. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is found in cases where chronic hypocalcemia is present, particularly in chronic renal failure, untreated deficiency rickets, chronic intestinal malabsorption, hepatobiliary disease, types I and II vitamin D-dependent rickets, tubular acidosis or Fanconi's syndrome. The tertiary form is distinguished by the autonomous nature of the parathyroid glands which have become hypertrophic/hyperplastic due to uncontrollable, chronic severe renal failure. It can also be of iatrogenic origin due to excessive intake of inorganic phosphates in familial hypophosphatemic rickets or chronic vitamin D deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / blood
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / diagnosis*
  • Hyperparathyroidism / drug therapy
  • Phosphorus / blood
  • Risk Factors


  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium