Skeletal lesions in primary hyperparathyroidism

Am J Med Sci. 2015 Apr;349(4):321-7. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0000000000000441.


Background: Osteitis fibrosa cystica (OFC), a relatively rare skeletal disorder caused by excess parathyroid hormone, is often misdiagnosed as a neoplasm. A summary of the diagnostic procedures and treatment protocols, especially the indications for orthopedic surgery, is helpful to avoid overtreatment.

Methods: Eight patients from the Orthopedic Department of Qilu Hospital of Shandong University diagnosed with OFC caused by primary hyperparathyroidism were treated, and the clinical manifestations, biochemical and radiography examination findings, surgeries and prognoses were recorded.

Results: All cases (5 female and 3 male) were admitted to our department with the complaint of bone pain (5/8) or fracture after mild trauma (3/8). Biochemical screening revealed hypercalcemia and high parathyroid hormone of varying levels. Two cases were misdiagnosed as primary bone lesion and metastasis. All cases were treated with parathyroidectomy and experienced spontaneous and progressive regression of the boney disease. Four cases underwent orthopedic surgery. Bone biopsies were necessary to exclude malignant tumors, especially with orthopedic procedures.

Conclusions: OFC can easily be misdiagnosed in orthopedic patients because of a lack of radiological and histologic specificity. Reaching the correct diagnosis requires a combination of clinical manifestations, routine biochemical screenings, radiographic examinations of bone and parathyroid and bone biopsy. It is generally acknowledged that parathyroidectomy is effective, but orthopedic surgery is sometimes necessary after a correct diagnosis and parathyroidectomy. However, the indications for orthopedic surgery must be strictly controlled to avoid overtreatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones / pathology*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / etiology
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / complications
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / diagnostic imaging
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteitis Fibrosa Cystica / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteitis Fibrosa Cystica / etiology
  • Osteitis Fibrosa Cystica / pathology
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Calcium