Lack of biochemical progression or continuation of accelerated bone loss in mild asymptomatic primary hyperparathyroidism: evidence for biphasic disease course

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988 Dec;67(6):1294-8. doi: 10.1210/jcem-67-6-1294.


We studied the natural history of primary hyperparathyroidism in patients in whom the disease was discovered fortuitously by multichannel biochemical screening and who were selected for conservative management because they were asymptomatic, had no renal stone disease or radiographic osteitis fibrosa, and had serum calcium values below 3.00 mmol/L, serum creatinine levels below 133 mumol/L, and forearm bone density not more than 2.5 SD below the mean expected for age, sex, and race. One hundred and seventy-four patients meeting these criteria were encountered during a 10-yr period, of whom 80 (mean age, 61 yr) had adequate follow-up; they did not differ significantly in any initial characteristic from the remaining 94 patients. These 80 patients were followed for 1-11 yr (mean, 46 months; median, 38 months), during which there was no change, mean or individual, in any index of PTH secretion or any of its biochemical effects and no decline in forearm bone density apart from that expected from increased age. There were 4 deaths from causes unrelated to hyperparathyroidism, and the overall death rate was not increased. The data suggest that no change occurred in either the number of parathyroid cells or secretory set-point, the 2 principal determinants of basal PTH secretion. This implies a biphasic course, with a short period of disease progression followed by a long period of disease stability. Our data support the decision to withhold surgical intervention in such patients, but to establish this as the correct policy for all asymptomatic patients will require a controlled clinical trial.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / complications*
  • Hyperparathyroidism / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minerals / metabolism
  • Osteolysis / etiology*
  • Osteolysis, Essential / etiology*


  • Minerals