Incidence of primary hyperparathyroidism in Rochester, Minnesota, 1993-2001: an update on the changing epidemiology of the disease

J Bone Miner Res. 2006 Jan;21(1):171-7. doi: 10.1359/JBMR.050910. Epub 2005 Sep 19.


We updated the incidence of primary hyperparathyroidism in Rochester, Minnesota. The lower rates previously noted persisted, whereas parathyroidectomies at our institution remained high. These data suggest an etiologic factor may be responsible for the peak incidence in the 1970s.

Introduction: Automated serum calcium measurements were associated with a dramatic rise in primary hyperparathyroidism in the early 1970s, but a progressive decline in the incidence thereafter was unexpected and suggested a fundamental change in the epidemiology of the disease. Our objective was to evaluate trends in the incidence of primary hyperparathyroidism since 1992.

Materials and methods: In this population-based descriptive study, Rochester, MN, residents who met defined diagnostic criteria for primary hyperparathyroidism from January 1993 through December 2001 were identified through the medical record linkage system of the Rochester Epidemiology Project and the Mayo Clinic Laboratory Information System. Changes in incidence were evaluated by Poisson regression.

Results: Altogether, 136 Rochester residents (94 women and 42 men) were newly identified with primary hyperparathyroidism in 1993-2001. Their mean age was 56 years, and 93% had definite disease. The overall age- and sex-adjusted (to 2000 U.S. whites) rate during this period was 21.6 per 100,000 person-years, which was less than the annual rate of 29.1 per 100,000 observed in 1983-1992 and 82.5 per 100,000 in July 1974-1982. Although community incidence declined, the number of parathyroidectomies performed at our institution increased during the same period. Serum calcium was deleted from the automated chemistry panel in June 1996, but most subjects remained asymptomatic at diagnosis (95%) with mild hypercalcemia. The majority of subjects were observed without parathyroid surgery (75%), and there was minimal impact on patient management from the 1990 NIH consensus conference on asymptomatic primary hyperparathyroidism.

Conclusions: The lower incidence of primary hyperparathyroidism noted through 1992 has persisted in our community through 2001, whereas parathyroidectomies at our institution remained high. These data suggest that some underlying etiologic factor, in addition to the introduction of automated serum calcium testing, may have been responsible for the peak incidence in the 1970s.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / blood
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / blood
  • Hyperparathyroidism / epidemiology*
  • Hyperparathyroidism / etiology
  • Hyperparathyroidism / history
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology


  • Calcium