Background: Under recognition of primary hyperparathyroidism can lead to delays in diagnosis and surgical management. We aimed to establish a time course for primary hyperparathyroidism from initial hypercalcemia to surgery and evaluate the impact of guidelines for surgical referral on this time course.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted on all patients undergoing parathyroidectomy for primary hyperparathyroidism in 2013 at the Cleveland Clinic. Patients were stratified by adherence to 2008 indications for surgery guidelines, age, calcium values, osteoporosis, history of nephrolithiasis, 24-hour urinary calcium values, and estimated glomerular filtration rate.
Results: 219 patients with sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism underwent initial surgery. Twenty-three (10.5%) normocalcemic patients were excluded. Time course from initial hypercalcemia to surgery was 3.9 years for 137 (70%) patients who met objective guideline criteria versus 3.8 years for 59 (30%) patients who did not meet objective guideline criteria (P = .87). Stratification by age <50 years and calcium value >11.5 mg/dL revealed earlier times to surgery. However, osteoporosis, nephrolithiasis, 24-hour urinary calcium values, and estimated glomerular filtration rate had no impact.
Conclusion: There is a delayed time course for patients with sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism from initial hypercalcemia to surgery. Despite published objective criteria, one third of the patients who underwent surgery did not meet criteria, signifying the importance of clinician and patient decision making. Furthermore, patients with osteoporosis and nephrolithiasis who can significantly benefit from surgical cure have no apparent impact on the time to surgery. Overall, the objective guideline criteria have no effect in referral patterns suggesting a call for revision.
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