• bone;
  • bone mineral density;
  • mild primary hyperparathyroidism;
  • osteoporosis;
  • surgery


Objectives.  Patients with mild primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) often appear asymptomatic, and have previously been regarded as not requiring treatment. However, increased cardiovascular morbidity and dyslipidaemia have also been recognized in mild pHPT, which also seem to be normalized after parathyroidectomy. The present study explores whether postmenopausal women with mild pHPT have decreased bone mineral density (BMD) compared with age-matched healthy controls, and the effects on BMD of parathyroidectomy.

Design, Subjects and Intervention.  A population-based health screening of 5202 postmenopausal women identified 87 overtly asymptomatic patients with mild pHPT as well as age-matched healthy controls. A 5-year follow-up included 49 cases who had undergone parathyroidectomy. BMD was measured with DXA at the femoral neck, the lumbar spine and the total body.

Results.  At study entry, BMD was 5–6% lower in the lumbar spine (L2-L4) and femoral neck in cases compared with matched controls. After the 5-year follow-up, BMD increased in L2-L4 by 2.9% (P = 0.002) in the parathyroidectomized cases and remained stable in the femoral neck. However, femoral neck BMD increased 4.1% (P = 0.013) for cases <67 years old (50% of the cohort).

Conclusion.  In accordance with recent NIH guidelines for pHPT treatment, the level of BMD per se in the investigated group of patients justifies parathyroidectomy in almost half of the cases with mild pHPT. Surgery could be expected to increase BMD in L2-L4 to the level of the controls, to increase femoral neck BMD in patients <67 years of age and to preserve femoral neck BMD in the elderly population.