Parathyroid gland
Parathyroid cyst

Topic Completed: 1 January 2013

Minor changes: 4 July 2020

Copyright: 2003-2020,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Parathyroid cysts[TI]

Monika Roychowdhury, M.D.
Hanni Gulwani, M.B.B.S.
Page views in 2019: 863
Page views in 2020 to date: 418
Cite this page: Roychowdhury M., Gulwani H. Parathyroid cyst. website. Accessed August 8th, 2020.
Definition / general
Clinical features
  • Pure cysts are present at any age; contain high levels of parathyroid hormone; can diagnose by FNA via PTH in fluid (Am J Clin Pathol 1986;86:776)
  • Parathyroid derives from third and fourth branchial pouch, as does thymus
  • Cysts may be present in low cervical or anterosuperior mediastinum
  • Patients usually are normocalcemic and present with an asymptomatic mass
  • May be hyperplastic gland (Am J Clin Pathol 1982;77:104), adenoma with cystic degeneration, heterotopic salivary gland-like tissue (Am J Surg Pathol 2000;24:837)
  • Can diagnose by FNA if PTH in fluid (Am J Clin Pathol 1986;86:776)
  • Cystic parathyroid lesions often contain turbid or colored fluid
  • Functional parathyroid cysts more common than nonfunctional parathyroid cysts (Arch Surg 2009;144:52)
  • During resection, cyst rupture should be avoided and patients with large cysts should be managed expectantly to forestall the development of symptomatic hypocalcemia
Radiology images

Contributed by Ayana Suzuki, Cytotechnologist, Japan

Large multilocular cyst

Case reports
Clinical images

Contributed by Ayana Suzuki, Cytotechnologist, Japan

Clear fluid

Gross description
  • Usually large, in inferior glands
  • 1 - 10 cm, unilocular, thin walled, clear fluid containing PTH, no nodules
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Lined by flattened parathyroid chief cells, oxyphils, clear cells; no nodules
  • Cyst wall has uniform thickness
  • May contain granular material resembling colloid
  • No cholesterol granulomas, no cartilage, no smooth muscle
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Fibroadipose tissue
containing islands of
parathyroid tissue

Positive stains
Negative stains
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