JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Safety of immediate discharge after parathyroidectomy: a prospective study of 3,000 consecutive patients.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the safety of immediate discharge after parathyroidectomy and to establish a protocol for the amount and duration of supplemental orally administered calcium for patients with varied clinical presentations of primary hyperparathyroidism.

METHODS: A 40-months, prospective, single institution, cohort study of 3,000 consecutive patients undergoing parathyroidectomy and discharged within 2.5 hours after the operation is reviewed. The amount of oral calcium supplementation prescribed postoperatively varied according to a protocol that considered the degree of serum calcium elevation preoperatively as well as the intraoperative findings (hyperplasia versus adenoma). Symptoms of hypocalcemia were tracked, and all surgical outcomes were monitored.

RESULTS: With use of the reported protocol, less than 7% of patients had postoperative symptoms of hypocalcemia, most of whom were successfully self-treated with additional orally administered calcium. Only 6 patients (0.2%) required a visit to the emergency department for intravenous calcium infusion, all occurring on postoperative day 3 or later, and none of these patients required rehospitalization. Postoperative calcium requirements varied on the basis of the degree of serum calcium elevation preoperatively, number of parathyroid glands removed or subjected to biopsy, presence of morbid obesity, and presence of severe osteoporosis.

CONCLUSION: Patients with primary hyperparathyroidism can be sent home immediately after successful parathyroidectomy, provided specific measures are taken regarding postoperative oral calcium supplementation. Use of a specific calcium dosing protocol that considers several patient variables will prevent the postoperative development of symptomatic hypocalcemia in 93% of patients, identify patients at high risk of hypocalcemia, and allow most patients who develop symptoms of hypocalcemia to self-medicate in a simple and predictable fashion. Routine monitoring of postoperative serum calcium levels in the hospital can be safely eliminated if the details of this protocol are followed.

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