The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, Patient Education Site

Parathyroid surgery: Cryopreservation

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What is cryopreservation?

The body needs some parathyroid tissue to properly control the blood calcium levels. Therefore, it is important to have a back-up supply of parathyroid tissue for patients in whom an operation may remove all of the remaining parathyroid tissue. Cryopreservation is a special procedure that involves freezing some of the parathyroid tissue that is removed during an operation and storing it for potential future use. Cryopreservation is typically only done in re-operative cases and in cases of four gland hyperplasiaFour gland hyperplasia - When all four glands are hyperactive.. If the patient ever develops hypoparathyroidismHypoparathyroidism - When the blood calcium levels are too low because the PTH levels are too low. (not enough parathyroid tissue leading to dangerously low calcium levels), the surgeon can thaw out the cryopreserved tissue and perform an autotransplantationAutotransplantation - When a piece of parathyroid tissue is re-implanted in the muscle of the forearm or neck. This is usually done in cases of secondary hyperparathyroidism or re-operative parathyroid surgery., usually into the forearm. It is essentially an insurance policy that is not necessary in routine operations. Not every hospital has the ability to store these cryopreserved parathyroids in the necessary sterile and monitored conditions.


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