Non-functioning parathyroid adenoma: a rare differential diagnosis for vocal-cord paralysis

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Adenomas of the parathyroid gland typically present with symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, manifested by fatigue, bone pain, abdominal pain, weakness, dyspepsia, nephrolithiasis and skeletal bone disease. Here, we describe, for the first time, a case of a non-functioning benign tumour of the parathyroid gland presenting as vocal-cord paralysis.


A 49-year-old male presented with a 10-week history of dysphonia and the feeling of having ‘something stuck in my throat’. History-taking elicited no other associated symptoms. Flexible nasal endoscopy demonstrated paralysis of the left vocal cord. Computed tomography of the neck revealed a cystic lesion, 18mm in diameter adjacent to the oesophagus. After more rigorous tests, a neck exploration, left hemithyroidectomy, excision of the left paratracheal mass and level-VI neck dissection was undertaken, without incident to the patient or surgical team. Histology was consistent with a parathyroid adenoma.


This case emphasises the importance of including adenomatous disease of the parathyroid gland in the differential diagnosis despite normal parathyroid status as a cause of vocal cord palsy.

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