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Parathyroid gland


Ectopic parathyroid tissue

Reviewer: Monika Roychowdhury, M.D. (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 16 February 2013, last major update January 2013
Copyright: (c) 2003-2013, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Estimated incidence of 35%; due to aberrant migration during early stages of development
● Common etiology of persistent or recurrent hyperparathyroidism when missed at initial diagnosis (Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 2012;120:604)
● Often symptomatic due to hyperplasia associated with secondary hyperparathyroidism
● Often symmetrical from side to side, even when ectopic, making localization somewhat easier (eMedicine)
● Can undergo adenomatous change, and cause primary hyperparathyroidism, hypercalcemia and acute pancreatitis (World J Surg Oncol 2004;2:41)
● Inability to identify may lead to failure of parathyroid surgery


● Axilla (Int Surg 2004;89:6)
● Mediastinum (Ann Thorac Surg 1997;64:238)
● Pyriform sinus (Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2002;128:71)
● Thyroid gland (Nihon Rinsho 1995;53:920)
● Vagus nerves of children (Arch Pathol Lab Med 1988;112:304)
● Ectopic inferior parathyroids are most frequently found in anterior mediastinum, in association with thymus or thyroid gland; ectopic superior parathyroids are usually at tracheoesophageal groove or retroesophageal region (Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 2012;120:604)

Case reports

● 86 year old woman with neck pain and difficulty swallowing (Case of the Week #108)

Micro images

Case of the week #108

Thymic tissue contains a mass of parathyroid cells

Stain images (parathyroid glands are on upper left):

Cytokeratin cocktailChromogranin     SynaptophysinParathyroid hormone

End of Parathyroid gland > General > Ectopic parathyroid tissue

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