Thyroidectomy Patients With Low Vitamin D Have a Higher Risk of Developing Hypocalcemia

First Posted: Sep 26, 2014 03:48 AM EDT

People with low levels of vitamin D undergoing thyroidectomy suffer from an increased risk of developing low levels of blood calcium after surgery.

Thyrodiectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the diseased thyroid gland that is located in front of the neck, below the larynx. This is a common, but a major surgery that involves serious risks and potential complications. One of the major complications that arise after thyroidectomy is hypocalcemia, low levels of calcium in the blood. Based on the duration, severity and onset, hypocalcemia varies from an asymptomatic biochemical abnormality to a life-threatening disorder.

In the latest study, researchers at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, reveal that the widespread deficiency of vitamin D among those undergoing thyroidectomy face a higher risk of developing hypocalcemia. The researchers evaluated data of 110 patients who underwent thyroidectomy at the hospital between Jan. 2013 and Dec. 2013. They were undergoing thyroid surgery for the first time and received surgery for both benign and malignant diseases.

Among the hospital patients, 40 percent of them had a low vitamin D levels before the surgery. The patients, aged 50 years and above, were African Americans, Hispanics; and were undergoing surgery for hyperthyroidism and were more likely deficient of vitamin D.

"The issue of vitamin D deficiency in patients who are undergoing thyroid surgery can potentially impact both the care of parathyroid glands during surgery and calcium management after surgery," said lead study author Hamad Chaudhary, M.D., with the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford. "By routinely checking vitamin D levels in all patients scheduled for thyroid surgery or selectively testing those at great risk, we may be able to improve surgical outcomes and shorten hospital stays."

Over the recent decade, deficiency of vitamin D grabbed a lot of attention for its major role in chronic illness like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Apart from this, low levels of vitamin D even increased the risk in setting of normal post-operative parathyroid hormone levels.

Results were presented this week at the 2014 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) annual meeting in Orlando.

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