Primary Hyperparathyroidism, Cognition, and Health-Related Quality of Life

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To provide a rigorous and critical review of studies in which formal neuropsychological (NP) testing and measurement of health-related quality of life (HRQL) were conducted pre- and post-parathyroidectomy for primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). These data contribute to the discussion on the utility of surgical intervention for nonclassic PHPT.

Summary Background Data:

PHPT is a complex endocrinopathy involving calcium metabolism and a potent hormone made by the parathyroid glands. Approximately 1.5% of Americans age 65 years and older, representing more than 3.9 million people, have PHPT, and the prevalence in postmenopausal women is estimated at 3.4%. Current National Institutes of Health guidelines for curative, surgical intervention of PHPT exclude 80% of patients with hyperparathyroid disease who have subjective neurobehavioral and physical symptoms that affect the quality of their lives.


An electronic search was conducted of prospective studies in which cognitive functioning was measured with formal NP tests and HRQL was measured with valid and reliable instruments before and following parathyroidectomy for PHPT.


In studies conducted pre- and post-parathyroidectomy for PHPT, 6 small studies of cognitive functioning report inconsistent findings; however, 7 well-designed studies of HRQL report improvement across multiple domains following surgery.


Surgical treatment of PHPT is a viable option for patients with laboratory diagnosed, “nonclassic” PHPT. Formal NP testing and evaluation of HRQL are useful tools that may assist physicians in choosing whom to refer for parathyroidectomy. Further longitudinal study of NP functioning and HRQL in patients with laboratory diagnosed PHPT is warranted.

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