Parathyroid glands are small endocrine glands located in the neck behind the thyroid that produce the parathyroid hormone. The purpose of the parathyroid gland is to control the calcium in our bodies which in turn controls how much calcium is in our blood and within our bones. Calcium controls many of our other systems and is a very important element in our bodies. For this reason it is vital that calcium is regulated very carefully.
In the human body there are 4 (four) Parathyroid glands that are normally the size of a grain of rice, however they can be as large as a pea and still be considered normal. These are located on the posterior surface of the thyroid gland typically two on each side. The two parathyroid glands that are positioned at the top on each side are called the superior parathyroid glands with the lower two being called the inferior parathyroid glands. Normally parathyroid glands are a spicy yellow mustard color. In normal situations people who have parathyroid disease, are likely to have 3 normal sized parathyroid glands and one parathyroid tumor that can vary in size from the size of a grape to as large as a walnut. If you have parathyroid disease commonly known as hyperparathyroidism it often requires surgery to remove the parathyroid gland which has become a tumor.