Dr. Daniel Ruan Surgeon discussing, “One of the Most Undiagnosed Deadly Diseases." Only “fixed” by a 20-minute surgical procedure. It is too often undiagnosed and missed, even by well-intentioned doctors. This disease is primary hyperparathyroidism.
Common symptoms of primary hyperparathyroidism are: fatigue, feeling older than your chronological age, chronic heart burn, aches and pains, brain fog, personality changes such as increased irritability, depression, lack of motivation, insomnia and even feeling hopeless. But, it can occur without any symptoms, too.
Primary hyperparathyroidism is commonly linked (signs) to bone loss, kidney stones, pancreatitis, irregular heart beats severe esophageal reflux. It’s diagnosed, ideally, by elevated blood calcium levels, anywhere in the 10’s of mg/dL. If your blood calcium comes back at 10.2 on a regular basis, but your doctor says that’s normal. After listening to this show you will understand the nuances of diagnosing this serious health issue, probably better than your doctor.
Any person who gets kidney stones, has bone loss, chronic reflux, or even a single case of pancreatitis, should be evaluated for this condition—primary hyperparathyroidism. But, alas, this life-threatening disorder often goes undiagnosed even by your trusty doctor and endocrinologist. There is a lot of misunderstanding out in the clinical trenches surrounding this disease. This includes diagnosis as well as treatment. But this show clears the air on every single level so you will achieve a grounded understanding of this condition by the end of this hour.
What exactly is primary hyperparathyroidism? It’s when a benign tumor grows on one or more of four tiny glands that surround your thyroid gland. Since “para” means “to surround”, and these glands are located around your thyroid gland, which sits like a bow-tie organ at the base of your throat, these glands are labeled your parathyroid glands. You have four of them. But these glands have nothing to do with your thyroid functioning.
Parathyroid glands rule your calcium dynamics. Calcium’s actions are famous for being linked to bone health. But calcium’s influence is much more global than only bone formation. Calcium dictates the entire electrical circuitry throughout your body. Thus when calcium, which should be very tightly controlled in the blood, goes too high or too low, many diverse symptoms can occur.
In hyperparathyroidism, one or more parathyroid glands become over-active. They secrete excessive amounts of parathyroid hormone. This makes blood calcium levels go too high. In the 10’s. A children has fast growing bone, so kids and young adults can safely have calcium levels in the 10’s. But not once we become adults.
Elevated blood levels of calcium are a deadly scenario. Calcium can get clogged in brain tissue, causing cognitive issues. Calcium is pulled out of the bones and can deposit in the heart, in blood vessels, in the kidneys, and in other organs, causing early aging and premature organ damage and even premature death. Calcium is a signaling molecule in the cells that secrete stomach acid (parietal cells) so there can commonly be severe reflux.
The patient may be put on anti-depressants, antacids, go through multiple kidney stone procedures, and trek from psychologist to psychiatrist trying to figure out why they feel so gloomy and forlorn. When all the while it may be an insidious silent condition that is only treated by a short and non-invasive small incision in the throat under twilight to removed the “offending” non-cancerous (but deadly) tumor.
Yet, very few surgeons are trained in this minimally invasive technique designed by Dr. James Norman, the head of the Norman Parathyroid Center on the 6th floor of the Tampa General Hospital, nicknamed the “Parathyroid Palace”. This is where Dr. Ruan is part of this amazing, one of a kind, surgical team. There is no other surgical clinic in the world that only deals with parathyroid disease. Every staff member knows all there is to know about these four glands, the parathyroid's. No other surgical center focuses only on these endocrine organs alone.
Berkson has referred many patients to the Norman clinic, where Dr. Ruan came to be one of their highly trained surgeons after already being a surgeon at the prestigious Harvard Medical Center for eight years. Berkson has shadowed the surgeons at this center and knows first hand how life-saving this diagnosis and simple surgery can be. And we also discuss how too easily the patient can miss being appropriately diagnosed, or be wrongly diagnosed, or even go through a surgery that leaves them worse off or doesn’t address all the involved glands.
There are a lot of surgeons out in the wild who do not have the experiential base to thoroughly assess and treat this often misunderstood issue: primary hyperparathyroidism.
Dr. Ruan shares his most striking cases. One woman was catatonic and couldn’t speak and within hours of the tumor on her parathyroid gland being removed, she could talk for the first time in a long while. One person was wheel chair bound for an extended time, yet by the second day after surgery with Dr. Ruan, they were walking!
This short surgery can be so life altering that Dr. Ruan became a bit teary-eyed while sharing these experiences. This show is touching and oh so informative.
One of the huge take-homes from this amazing show is how easy it is to go to good doctors and great community surgeons and still not get the best care or even the accurate diagnosis. Berkson and Ruan detail all the issues to carefully watch out for to protect yourself and those you love. Remember, no one will ever care about your health as much as you will.
This show gives life saving information on a too poorly understood issue that many doctors don’t catch. Yet it can make someone loose years off their life. This is a must- hear and must-share show!
Related links: http://www.parathyroid.com/Dr.Norman.htm