Context: Primary hyperparathyroidism (P-HPT) is one of the most common of all endocrine disorders. Eighty percent to 85% of cases are due to parathyroid adenomas while hyperplasia and carcinoma account for 10% to 15% and less than 1%, of cases, respectively. The past decade has witnessed remarkable advances in the understanding of the molecular basis of parathyroid hyperplasia and neoplasia. Additionally, imaging studies and the development of the intraoperative assay for parathyroid hormone have transformed the diagnosis and management of patients with these disorders.
Objective: To review the pathology of parathyroid lesions associated with P-HPT, their molecular and genetic bases, including heritable hyperparathyroidism syndromes, and their clinical diagnosis and management.
Data sources: Review of pertinent epidemiology, pathology, radiology, and surgery literature on the diagnosis, classification, and treatment of P-HPT.
Conclusions: Although heritable causes of P-HPT including multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 and 2A and hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor syndrome account for a minority of cases of P-HPT, advances in the characterization of the affected genes have provided insights into the genetic basis of sporadic parathyroid neoplasms. Alterations in cyclin D1 and loss of heterozygosity of chromosome 11q in adenomas and hyperplasias have provided support for clonality of these lesions. Parafibromin, the protein product of the HRPT2 gene responsible for hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor syndrome, has been implicated in the development of sporadic parathyroid carcinomas and loss of immunohistochemical expression of this protein has been suggested to be of value in making the diagnosis of parathyroid carcinoma. Sestamibi scanning and ultrasound have revolutionized the planning of surgical approaches and the intraoperative parathyroid hormone assay has become the standard in guiding completion or extension of surgery.