Parathyroid gland

The parathyroid glands are small glands that are related to the thyroid gland, in both location and purpose. A number of Parathyroid Disorders can afflict the parathyroid glands. Hyperparathyroidism is over-production of parathyroid hormones; hypoparathyroidism is under-production of this hormone. These disorders can result in disordered calcium metabolism such as Hypocalcemia (low calcium) or Hypercalcemia (high calcium). Read more about: Calcium Metabolism Disorders, Thyroid Disorders

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Most people have four pea-sized glands, called parathyroid glands, on the thyroid gland in the neck. Though their names are similar, the thyroid and parathyroid glands are completely different. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH), which helps your body keep the right balance of calcium and phosphorous.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Source: MedLinePlus (NIH)1

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Parathyroid Glands: Two pairs of small oval-shaped glands located in the front and the base of the Neck and adjacent to the two lobes of Thyroid Gland. They secrete Parathyroid Hormone that regulates the balance of Calcium; Phosphorus; and Magnesium in the body.2

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Parathyroid Gland Capsule: The thin fibrous lining that divides the parathyroid gland into lobules.3

Anatomical Information about Parathyroid gland

Anatomy of the thyroid and parathyroid glands. The thyroid gland lies at the base of the throat near the trachea. It is shaped like a butterfly, with the right lobe and left lobe connected by a thin piece of tissue called the isthmus. The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized organs found in the neck near the thyroid. The thyroid and parathyroid glands make hormones.

Source: NCI (NIH)4

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What are the parathyroid glands?

The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized glands located on or near the thyroid gland in the neck. Occasionally, a person is born with one or more of the parathyroid glands in another location. For example, a gland may be embedded in the thyroid, in the thymus—an immune system organ located in the chest—or elsewhere around this area. In most such cases, however, the parathyroid glands function normally.

The parathyroid glands are part of the body’s endocrine system. Endocrine glands produce, store, and release hormones, which travel in the bloodstream to target cells elsewhere in the body and direct the cells’ activity.

Though their names are similar, the thyroid and parathyroid glands are entirely different glands, each producing distinct hormones with specific functions. The parathyroid glands produce PTH, a hormone that helps maintain the correct balance of calcium in the body. PTH regulates the level of calcium in the blood, release of calcium from bone, absorption of calcium in the small intestine, and excretion of calcium in the urine.

When the level of calcium in the blood falls too low, normal parathyroid glands release just enough PTH to restore the blood calcium level.

Source: NIDDK (NIH)5

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The body normally has four parathyroid glands, which are located close to the thyroid gland in the front of the neck. The parathyroids release into the bloodstream a chemical called parathyroid hormone (PTH), which helps maintain a normal supply of calcium in the blood, bones, and urine.

Source: NIDDK (NIH)6


Types may include:7

Types of Parathyroid Gland:

  • Inferior Parathyroid Gland
  • Intrathyroidal Parathyroid
  • Superior Parathyroid Gland

Categories for Parathyroid gland

Category of Parathyroid Gland Capsule:


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  1. Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): parathyroiddisorders.html
  2. Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  3. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  4. Source: NCI (NIH): types/ thyroid/ patient/ thyroid-treatment-pdq
  5. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ endocrine-diseases/ primary-hyperparathyroidism
  6. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ endocrine-diseases/ multiple-endocrine-neoplasia-type-1
  7. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  8. ibid.
  9. Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): calcium.html
  10. Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): parathyroiddisorders.html
  11. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ health-topics/ endocrine/ multiple-endocrine-neoplasia-type-1/ Pages/ fact-sheet.aspx
  12. Source: NICHD (NIH): health/ topics/ hypopara/ Pages/ default.aspx
  13. [from HPO]
  14. Source: GTR (NCBI/NIH): gtr/ conditions/ C0020598/ 
  15. Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): thyroiddiseases.html

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.