Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery

, Volume 392, Issue 4, pp 423–426 | Cite as

A clinical chameleon: postoperative hypoparathyroidism

  • Thomas BohrerEmail author
  • Mark Hagemeister
  • Olaf Elert
Original Article



About 1,200 patients per year develop postoperative hypoparathyroidism alone in Germany. Many of those patients may be misdiagnosed as the symptoms of this disease may vary and can be atypical.


As an example, we describe the first known case of an elderly patient with a long history of seizures as a complication of an undiagnosed chronic hypoparathyroidism after surgery of a pT4-esophageal carcinoma. The 63-year-old male patient underwent laryngo–hypopharyngo–esophagectomy with gastric transposition and partial thyroid resection for a proximal esophageal carcinoma in 1994. About half a year later, the patient developed for the first time a convulsive syncope. Misleading diagnoses were for years suspected metastasis formation and a dumping syndrome. The general physician of the patient called him the epilepsy man, while no cause of the seizures were found. More than a decade of years later, when the correct diagnosis was made, finally by determination of parathyroid hormone levels, the seizures of the patient were completely eliminated by calcium supplementation therapy. The patient’s quality of life improved clearly in the following time.


It is essential to consider chronic hypoparathyroidism in the differential diagnosis of patients with hypocalcemia who have undergone extended neck and proximal esophageal surgery before. In addition to that, it is mandatory to autotransplant parathyroids during the initial procedure which might be accidentally removed during surgery and to monitor parathyroid function in each patient in the further course postoperatively.


Postoperative chronic hypoparathyroidism Hypocalcemia Complication after laryngo–hypopharyngo–esophagectomy Parathyroid hormone 



Written consent was obtained from the patient for publication of study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Visceral, Thoracic and General SurgeryPhilipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Cardiothoracic SurgeryJulius-Maximilians University of WuerzburgWuerzburgGermany

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