Normocalcaemic primary hyperparathyroidism: a pragmatic approach

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It is well recognised that over the past three to four decades the incidence of asymptomatic primary hyperparathyroidism has increased significantly. However, more recently this pattern has further evolved into a presentation with normocalcaemia and raised parathyroid hormone (PTH) level without the presence of a recognised stimulus for its rise, in the form of vitamin D deficiency or renal impairment. A diagnostic label of normocalcaemic hyperparathyroidism (NPHPT) has been given to this phenotype and in most such individuals, the initial PTH measurement is driven by the presence of metabolic bone disease. The reported prevalence, degree of end-organ involvement and the rate of progression vary considerably and are related to patients studied and the biochemical cut-offs used in its definition. A majority of patients are diagnosed during assessment of metabolic bone disease of varying degrees. Once the diagnosis is confirmed by excluding confounding factors, the patient should undergo full assessment of end-organ involvement, which is the main determinant of further therapeutic decisions. Surgery, with prior localisation, is considered in patients with significant end-organ involvement in keeping with the guidance for hypercalcaemic patients. If a patient does not meet these criteria, annual clinical and biochemical surveillance is recommended to identify progression to hypercalcaemia or worsening end-organ involvement. It is less clear if patients identified during ‘routine’ requests for evaluation of unrelated symptoms require similar close monitoring. In conclusion, in this review on NPHPT we focus on its definition, planning of further investigations, selection of patients for intervention and devising an appropriate follow-up strategy.

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