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Thyroid & Parathyroid

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits in your neck, across the windpipe, just under the prominence sometimes called the Adam’s apple.  It makes thyroid hormone, which has a major role in regulating many aspects of health, including  - the rate of “metabolism”, body weight, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, mental alertness, muscles and nerve function and growth in children.  Too much thyroid hormone production will cause anxiety, fast heart rate, weight loss, diarrhoea, difficulty sleeping and intolerance to hot weather.  Too little thyroid hormone causes fatigue, weight gain, hair loss and sensitivity to cold weather.

Do I need to have surgery?

The majority of thyroid problems do not benefit from surgery.  Your surgeon will generally only recommend surgery

  • To treat thyroid cancer that has been proven on needle biopsy (FNA)
  • To diagnose whether a nodule (lump) in the thyroid is cancer when the needle biopsy (FNA) is suspicious or inconclusive
  • When the thyroid has enlarged and is starting to cause compressive symptoms - coughing, difficulty swallowing or a choking feeling
  • As one of several options to treat an overactive thyroid gland

Is it possible to live without a thyroid gland?

Complete removal of the thyroid gland is a very common operation performed worldwide.  Patients who have had their thyroid gland removed live a full and normal life on thyroxine, a medication which replaces the function of the thyroid.

What do parathyroid glands do?

The parathyroids are four glands located next to the thyroid gland which produce the hormone PTH. These glands control the body’s calcium levels and are important for overall bone health.

What happens when the parathyroid glands become overactive (hyperparathyroidism)?

Overactive parathyroid glands are typically caused by a parathyroid adenoma, where one of the glands develops a benign tumour which produces too much PTH.  This can result in kidney stones, loss of calcium from bone (osteoporosis), bony aches and pains, fatigue and reduced mental function.  Less common causes of hyperparathyroidism include all four parathyroid glands over functioning without there being a specific adenoma or having more than one adenoma.

Patients with renal failure may develop secondary hyperparathyroidism - overactive parathyroid glands from a cause unrelated to the parathyroid glands themselves.

What is the best treatment for hyperparathyroidism?

Surgery remains the best way to treat primary hyperparathyroidism.  In some unusual cases, medications can be used to reduce calcium levels but this reduction is temporary.  Most parathyroid procedures can be performed using a keyhole (minimally invasive) approach.

Appointment Checklist

Before coming to your first appointment with Dr Chung, please make sure you have the following information with you.

  • Valid Referral
  • Recent Xrays / Scans
  • Recent blood test results
  • Health fund card
  • Medicare card
  • List of current medications

Our Locations

We have two locations for your convenience...

map nepean

map norwest