Parathyroid storm: Immediate recognition and pathophysiological considerations

S. Minisola, E. Romagnoli, L. Scarnecchia, M. T. Pacitti, R. Rosso, V. Carnevale, G. Minisola, G. Mazzuoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 56-year-old white man was referred for evaluation of severe hypercalcemia following a three-week history of progressive weakness, nausea, and depression. Initial laboratory results showed serum total and ionized calcium (Ca++) values of 5.3 and 2.6 mmol/l, respectively. A short intact PTH assay was immediately performed and an extremely high value was obtained in just 30 min (1315 ng/l, normal values 6.4-70.4). The patient was therefore treated with saline solution and with salmon calcitonin (1200 IU/day, half by continuous i.v. infusion and half by i.m. route) for 10 days. There was a sudden decrease of both Ca++ and intact PTH during the first six days; then there was a trend to reach a steady-state until parathyroidectomy was performed. After withdrawal of calcitonin therapy it was possible to observe a positive uncoupling between bone formation (serum alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin) and resorption (serum tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase) markers. On day 35 the patient underwent neck exploration, and an enlarged lower left parathyroid gland was removed that on macroscopic examination revealed the presence of a haemorrhagic cyst; microscopic appearance was suggestive of a previous glandular infarction. This is the first time the daily clinical course of a parathyroid crisis has been documented. Furthermore, changes of biomarkers of bone turnover following calcitonin therapy show that high doses of the hormone may cause a prolonged positive uncoupling of the two processes of bone remodeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-706
Number of pages4
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • Calcitonin-Bone remodeling markers
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Parathyroid hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hematology


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