Can Parathyroid Glands be seen on a Thyroid Ultrasound?

Hi All,

Happy New Year. Hope 2014 will be a year of health and happiness for you all.

I posted on here about a month ago as I suffer lots of Thyroid and Parathyroid symptoms, my Mum is Hyperthyroid and I also have elevated Calcium levels, I'm only 30 years old and as most of you battle regularly, I'm trying to get a doctor to listen to my clinical symptoms rather than a lab range! I had a Thyroid ultrasound about 2 months ago and the report came back with a small colloid cyst on my left thyroid lobe. Having done tremendous amounts of research on thyroid and parathyroid I'm wondering whether this "cyst" could actually of been an enlarged parathyroid gland? Can ultrasounds show parathyroid glands?

I read the below earlier on a parathyroid website and it struck a cord with me that maybe the "cyst" could actually be an enlarged parathyroid gland. Any ideas?

"Each parathyroid gland is densely packed and about the size of a grain of rice, with two embedded in the right and two in the left lobe of the thyroid gland. However, there is some variation in position and number with some individuals having eight or more parathyroid glands"

Thanks all x

9 Replies

  • Have you had a blood test for your parathyroids? How has your Vitamin D been? It it has been consistently low and the parathyroid high, then your doctor ahould have picked this up and acted. The Vitamin D should be treated to get back to 'normal' and then if the parathyroid stays high, it needs to be investigated further. Low vitamin D can cause high parathyroid results. This is what I am in the middle of at the moment. I have been able to take megadoses of Vitamin D without worrying about the calcium as it has always been fine. I will be having blood tests for everything next week to see what has happened and if further investigations are needed or not.

  • Hi, Happy and Healthy New Year to you too! Just wanted to let you know that I had an ultrasound of my thyroid before Christmas, Half way through the guy doing the scan said just a moment I'm going to get one of my colleagues to take a look, which of course worried me, but it was because he wanted a second opinion because he thought that my parathyroid glands looked too small. Apparently I have got a small thyroid and parathyroid glands, the more experienced radiologist said that there is some variation between people and this is perfectly normal and they actually showed me the pictures on the screen of both my thyroid and parathyroid glands. So the answer to your question is yes they can see parathyroid glands on an ultrasound scan. Take Care XX

  • Ultrasound can find about 60% of parathyroid adenomas (if the scan is actually performed by an endocrinologist or surgeon, or a tech that is experienced in parathyroid ultrasound and who has been told that that is what they are looking for!). However, ultrasound only finds the easy to locate, superficial tumors. The sound waves do not go deep enough and so they cannot find tumors deep in the neck, those up high in the neck, those in the chest, etc. A parathyroid tumor found on an ultrasound is a parathyroid tumor that any experienced parathyroid surgeon would find during a routine parathyroid operation, with a few rare exceptions.

    And have a wander round that site if you have any interest in parathyroid issues.


  • Thanks guys. I am going to go back to the GP when I get back home armed with my notes. I'm currently in Sydney but due home in 2 weeks. Unfortunately my Ultrasound was carried out by a general radiographer, not an Endocrinologist. I only wondered as they reported the Cyst being small and I wondered if it could of been a parathyroid gland to explain the elevated calcium levels. Does anybody know roughly the calcium ranges that UK labs use? I read on Hyperparathyroidism UK that ranges should be within 2.1 - 2.6 mmol/L, my latest came back as 2.66 mmol\L and my PTH was mid range but I'm going by AUS lab ranges.

  • You really always need to use the range from the actual lab that did the test - they do vary a bit (though I think calcium is tighter controlled than thyroid hormones).

  • Thank you. My calcium range was over their lab range but apparently not high enough for them to be concerned :-(

  • My range for calcium stops at 2.65 so there is a difference in ranges.

  • I have hyperparathyroidism so I can tell you with those results over here it is unlikely any doctor would be concerned. There have to be many other blood results out of whack before they consider hpth.

  • Hypohen is there any blood tests I could ask for? I've been told to get my antibodies checked when I get home as my throat looks full, to check for Graves.

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