Surgical strategy in lithium-associated hyperparathyroidism: A population-based study

World J Surg. 2024 Feb;48(2):408-415. doi: 10.1002/wjs.12071. Epub 2024 Jan 12.


Background: The extent of parathyroidectomy (PTX) recommendation in patients with lithium-associated hyperparathyroidism (LAH) remains controversial. The primary objectives of this study were to analyze extent of surgery, complications, and long-term outcomes.

Methods: A population-based study, including all primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) patients who underwent PTX in Sweden between 2008 and 2017. Data on exhibited lithium prescriptions, morbidity, surgical approach, and outcomes were collected from relevant national registers and the Scandinavian Quality Register of Thyroid, Parathyroid, and Adrenal Surgery. Patients with lithium exposure before PTX were defined as having LAH. Descriptive summary statistics and regression models were used to evaluate differences in comorbidities, surgical approach, and outcomes between LAH and PHPT not exposed to lithium (non-LAH).

Results: Lithium exposure was significantly more common among PHPT (n = 202, 2.3%) than in controls (n = 416, 0.5%); OR 5.0 (95% CI 4.2-5.9). The risk of LAH correlated to the length of lithium exposure. In the LAH-group, the surgical procedures were more extensive and associated with a higher risk of postoperative bleeding, wound infections, persistent hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia that remained after adjustment for the higher percentage of multiglandular disease. However, the cumulative risk of re-admission for PHPT was similar the first years after PTX and primarily elevated for patients with >5 years duration of lithium exposure prior to surgery.

Conclusions: The findings support the perception of LAH as a complex entity. We recommend a functionally oriented approach, aimed to obtain and maintain normocalcemia for as long as possible, minimizing the risk of permanent hypoparathyroidism, and accepting some risk of recurrence.

Keywords: hyperparathyroidism; lithium; lithium‐associated hyperparathyroidism; parathyroidectomy; primary hyperparathyroidism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary* / surgery
  • Lithium / adverse effects
  • Lithium Compounds / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroidectomy* / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Complications / chemically induced
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Lithium
  • Lithium Compounds