A prospective cross-sectional study on hypocalcemia after total thyroidectomy in patients with Graves' disease: insights on secondary hyperparathyroidism

Surg Today. 2024 Apr 18. doi: 10.1007/s00595-024-02848-4. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: To investigate the parathyroid function and calcium (Ca) levels in the secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) state in patients with Graves' disease.

Methods: We examined 31 consecutive patients with Graves' disease without chronic kidney disease, who were treated with total thyroidectomy. The patients were divided into a normal parathyroid hormone (PTH) group (NPTH group; n = 19) with a PTH level ≤ 65 pg/mL, and a secondary hyperparathyroidism group (SHPT group; n = 12), with a PTH level > 65 pg/mL. The PTH and Ca-related parameters were examined and the risk factors for postoperative hypocalcemia were analyzed.

Results: The preoperative Ca level was significantly lower (2.24 ± 0.06 vs. 2.31 ± 0.07 mmol/L, p < 0.05) in the SHPT group than in the NPTH group. The reduction in PTH, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), and Ca levels from the preoperative day to the next morning was significantly greater in the SHPT group than in the NPTH group (p < 0.05). When intraoperative factors were included, the decrease in the PTH level alone was significant. SHPT was a significant factor in determining the extent of PTH reduction.

Conclusions: Hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands in the SHPT state were more susceptible to postoperative PTH reduction, which, combined with low preoperative Ca levels, increased the risk of postoperative hypocalcemia in patients with Graves' disease.

Keywords: Graves’ disease; Hypocalcemia; Secondary hyperparathyroidism; Total thyroidectomy.