Chronic hypoparathyroidism (HP) is associated with acute and chronic complications, especially those related to hypocalcemia. We aimed to analyze details on hospital admissions and the reported deaths in affected patients.
Design and methods
In a retrospective analysis, we reviewed the medical history of 198 patients diagnosed with chronic HP over a continuous period of up to 17 years at the Medical University Graz.
The mean age in our mostly female cohort (70.2%) was 62.6 ± 18.7 years. The etiology was predominantly postsurgical (84.8%). About 87.4% of patients received standard medication (oral calcium/vitamin D), 15 patients (7.6%) used rhPTH1–84/Natpar® and 10 patients (4.5%) had no/unknown medication. Two hundred and nineteen emergency room (ER) visits and 627 hospitalizations were documented among 149 patients, and 49 patients (24.7%) did not record any hospital admissions. According to symptoms and decreased serum calcium levels, 12% of ER (n = 26) visits and 7% of hospitalizations (n = 44) were likely attributable to HP. A subgroup of 13 patients (6.5%) received kidney transplants prior to the HP diagnosis. In eight of these patients, parathyroidectomy for tertiary renal hyperparathyroidism was the cause of permanent HP. The mortality was 7.8% (n = 12), and the causes of death appeared to be unrelated to HP. Although the awareness for HP was low, calcium levels were documented in 71% (n = 447) of hospitalizations.
Acute symptoms directly related to HP did not represent the primary cause of ER visits. However, comorbidities (e.g. renal/cardiovascular diseases) associated with HP played a key role in hospitalizations and deaths.
Hypoparathyroidism (HP) is the most common complication after anterior neck surgery. Yet, it remains underdiagnosed as well as undertreated, and the burden of disease and long-term complications are usually underestimated. There are few detailed data on emergency room (ER) visits hospitalizations and death in patients with chronic HP, although acute symptoms due to hypo-/hypercalcemia are easily detectable. We show that HP is not the primary cause for presentation but that hypocalcemia is a typical laboratory finding (when ordered) and thus may contribute to subjective symptoms. Patients often present with renal/cardiovascular/oncologic illness for which HP is known to be a contributing factor. A small but very special group (n = 13, 6.5%) are patients after kidney transplantations who showed a high ER hospitalization rate. Surprisingly, HP was never the cause for their frequent hospitalizations but rather the result of chronic kidney disease. The most frequent cause for HP in these patients was parathyroidectomy due to tertiary hyperparathyroidism. The causes of death in 12 patients appeared to be unrelated to HP, but we found a high prevalence of chronic organ damages/comorbidities related to it in this group. Less than 25% documented HP correctly in the discharge letters, which indicates a high potential for improvement.