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Uncovering Mechanisms of Post-Procedural Hypocalcemia in Dogs with Hyperparathydroidism

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Hyperparathyroidism is a disease whereby overactive parathyroid glands produce unchecked amounts of parathyroid hormone that leads to excessive levels of circulating calcium which can have serious consequences. Primary hyperparathyroidism in dogs can be successfully treated by removal or ablation of the affected glands. These procedures are relatively simple, associated with low morbidity and require only minimal aftercare; however, the most common complication following treatment is low calcium levels (hypocalcemia). Hypocalcemia can be a serious complication that if left untreated, can result in excitation of the nervous system (i.e. tetany and seizures) and life threatening cardiac abnormalities.

Currently, there are no reliable markers or indicators to determine which dogs undergoing treatment of primary hyperparathyroidism will develop hypocalcemia. Current standard of care is to hospitalize all dogs post-procedurally to monitor serum calcium levels.

Goals: This study aims to provide veterinarians with an ability to predict the likelihood of the development of this complication and therefore intervene pre or post-procedurally to reduce or eliminate it.

Eligibility: Any dog diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism undergoing treatment via either surgical removal or ethanol ablation at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals.

Compensation: There are no costs to you for your dog to participate in the study. The cost of the extra samples run are being covered by the study. The cost of any tests or procedures that are considered standard of care in the treatment of primary hyperparathyroidism including clinically necessary bloodwork, surgery, aftercare and follow-up treatment are not covered by the study and are the responsibility of the owner. 

Owner Responsibilities: 

  • You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding your dog’s activity level, weight and diet.
  • Your dog will have a small amount of extra blood taken prior to, and after removal of the hyperactive parathyroid tissue. This blood will be used for research purposes to look at levels of vitamin D, calcium and parathyroid hormone and to look at your dog’s acid base balance.
  • A small amount of urine will be collected by free catch (no needles or catheters) for analysis of calcium levels.
  • You may be contacted within 6 months of treatment for questions on your dog’s progress.

Principal Investigator: Julia Sumner, BVSc, DACVS

Contact/Schedule an Appointment: Please call the clinical trials coordinator or any member of the soft tissue surgery team at 607.253.3060 or email

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