Disodium pamidronate in the preoperative treatment of hypercalcemia in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism

Surgery. 1991 Sep;110(3):480-6.


Nine patients (median age, 81 years) with primary hyperparathyroidism were treated with intravenous infusions of disodium pamidronate (APD), which is a bisphosphonate drug. Six patients had severe hypercalcemia (serum calcium concentration, greater than 3 mmol/L) persisting after rehydration with saline and treatment with furosemide; three patients had moderate hypercalcemia with pronounced symptoms (serum calcium concentration 2.8 to 2.9 mmol/L). Three of the patients were considered to have hypercalcemic crises. In all patients, the raised serum calcium levels were lowered by the disodium pamidronate infusions. One week after a single infusion of 15 to 60 mg disodium pamidronate, six of the nine patients had serum calcium concentrations within the normal reference interval and two patients had slightly raised values. Transient asymptomatic hypocalcemia was noted in one patient. All patients tolerated the infusions well, and no side effects were noted. In the patients with verified parathyroid adenomas, a temporary increase in parathyroid hormone levels were observed concomitant with the drop in serum calcium level. The patient with parathyroid cancer displayed no such effect indicating an autonomous parathyroid hormone secretion from the parathyroid carcinoma tumor. The good effect of treatment with the osteoclast inhibitor disodium pamidronate on hypercalcemia caused by primary hyperparathyroidism suggests that this hypercalcemia is mainly due to an increased osteoclast activity. The number of patients in this series is yet too small to allow general conclusions. But the case histories in this series show that disodium pamidronate promises to be of value in different clinical situations for the treatment of severe hypercalcemia in patients with hyperparathyroidism. It can be used (1) preoperatively to investigate whether the patient's symptoms are related to the hypercalcemia, (2) in the treatment of hypercalcemic crises when "forced diuresis" has failed to normalize the serum calcium, (3) after unsuccessful parathyroid surgery when it can be used as a long-term treatment before reoperation, giving time for localization studies and healing of the scar reaction, and (4) in aged and fragile patients where it can be tried as an alternative to surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypercalcemia / etiology
  • Hyperparathyroidism / complications
  • Hyperparathyroidism / drug therapy*
  • Hyperparathyroidism / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pamidronate
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood


  • Diphosphonates
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Pamidronate