The normal range for a parathyroid hormone (PTH) blood test is 14 to 65 pg/mL. To better understand what defines a normal range for a PTH blood test, let’s examine PTH testing in detail.
Why Is a PTH Test Performed?
A PTH test is used to measure the PTH level in the blood. It is performed on both children and adults to identify causes of abnormal calcium or phosphorus levels.
A doctor sometimes requests a PTH test for a patient who is already dealing with abnormal calcium or phosphorus levels in the blood. Or, a doctor may request a PTH test for a patient who experiences fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, or other physical symptoms associated with increased calcium levels. A PTH test may also be required if a patient displays symptoms of low calcium levels; these symptoms include muscle cramps and tingling in the fingers and toes.
How Is a PTH Test Performed?
Ideally, PTH testing should be done first thing in the morning before eating anything (fasting). During a PTH test, a blood sample is drawn from a patient’s vein, and a doctor analyzes the test results. The doctor also uses the test to determine if a patient is dealing with a parathyroid-related condition.
The results of a PTH test help a doctor see if a patient’s PTH level is low, high, or normal, and PTH test results usually become available within a few days of a test. Additional testing may be required to help a doctor verify his or her results; this testing helps a doctor provide a patient with a personalized treatment recommendation.
In addition to a PTH test, you should have calcium and vitamin D blood test. Together, PTH, calcium, and vitamin D blood tests allow a doctor to better assess a patient’s parathyroid function.
Is a Calcium Blood Test Necessary?
Calcium is an essential chemical element for human beings. It supports bone health, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.
The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends a dietary allowance of 200 to 1,200 mg of calcium daily; this figure varies based on a person’s age, gender, and other factors. Calcium is found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and other foods and drinks. In some instances, people take calcium supplements that contain different amounts of elemental calcium.
There is a direct correlation between elevated calcium levels in the blood and hyperparathyroidism (HPT), a medical condition that causes the parathyroid glands to secrete excess amounts of PTH. The parathyroid glands perform calcium regulation; they release PTH that enters the bones and ensures that cells can release calcium into the bloodstream. At the same time, PTH ensures that the kidneys absorb calcium from urine. PTH also converts vitamin D into its active form, allowing the intestines to absorb calcium from food and boost the blood’s calcium level.
HPT disrupts the parathyroid glands’ ability to regulate the body’s calcium level. It occurs due to a benign tumor that is found on any of the four parathyroid glands. As a parathyroid gland tumor grows, it causes the gland to increase its PTH production. The result: calcium levels rise in the body, increasing a person’s risk of kidney stones, memory loss, high blood pressure, and other health issues.
With a PTH test, a doctor can determine if a patient is dealing with a calcium imbalance. With further testing the doctor then diagnoses and differentiates between primary, secondary, and tertiary HPT, as well as finds out if a patient is dealing with elevated phosphorus levels in the blood.
Is a Phosphorus Test Necessary?
Research indicates that phosphorus stimulates PTH secretion and synthesis. However, dietary phosphorous sometimes increases the body’s production of calcitriol, a synthetic version of vitamin D3 that is commonly used to treat a calcium deficiency. When this happens, phosphorous can disrupt the body’s calcium levels.
A phosphorous test allows a doctor to measure the amount of phosphate in a patient’s blood. It is performed via a blood draw from a patient’s vein; the blood is generally drawn from inside of a patient’s elbow or the back of his or her hand.
A doctor may recommend that a patient stop taking certain medications leading up to a phosphorous test. Upon completion, the test allows a doctor to see if a patient’s phosphorous levels fall within a normal range of 2.4 to 4.1 mg/dl.
If a patient is dealing with low phosphorous levels, he or she may be have HPT.
What Does It Feel Like to Undergo PTH Testing?
PTH testing may seem scary, particularly for a patient who is experiencing a wide range of HPT symptoms but has not yet received an HPT diagnosis. Fortunately, PTH testing is simple, safe, and effective, and it helps patients find the best way to treat their HPT symptoms.
A PTH test requires a doctor to insert a needle into a patient’s vein to draw blood. In this instance, a patient may experience moderate pain or a prick or stinging sensation; this pain or sensation is temporary and disappears shortly after the blood is drawn. Next, the needle is removed from the patient’s vein, and the puncture site is covered to stop bleeding.
Following a PTH test, a doctor reviews the results closely and develops a treatment plan designed to delivers the best-possible results to his or her patient. If a patient’s PTH level is normal, a doctor may recommend a wait-and-see approach and continue to monitor his patient’s PTH level over the next few weeks and months. A doctor may also request various lab tests for HPT to further evaluate a patient’s parathyroid gland function; these tests may include alkaline phosphate, vitamin D, and creatine level assessments.
If PTH testing reveals a patient’s PTH level is elevated, he or she may be dealing with HPT. This patient may also be prone to other health issues, such as:
- Vitamin D Deficiency: Can lead to bone density loss, along with osteoporosis (a condition that makes the bones fragile and weak) and bone fractures
- Malabsorption: Hampers the body’s ability to absorb nutrients
- Osteoporosis: Reduces bone mineralization and causes the bones to break down more easily than ever before
If PTH testing reveals a patient’s PTH level is lower than normal, he or she may be dealing with HPT or other medical conditions, such as:
- Hypoparathyroidism: Occurs when the parathyroid glands produce insufficient amounts of PTH
- Hypomagnesemia: Results in low levels of magnesium in the body, increasing the risk of diarrhea, pancreatitis, and other gastrointestinal issues
- Sarcoidosis: Causes tissue inflammation in the lungs, liver, and other organs
PTH testing must be performed by a highly trained and experienced doctor. This ensures that a patient can receive firsthand PTH testing insights from a medical expert, find out what to expect during a PTH test, and learn about the risks associated with PTH testing.
What Are the Risks of PTH Testing?
Risks associated with PTH testing include:
- Skin punctures due to an inability to locate a patient’s vein for blood collection
- Hematoma (accumulation of blood under the skin)
Veins and arteries vary in size, and it is sometimes easier for a doctor to obtain blood from some patients than others during a PTH test. Regardless, it is important to choose a doctor who dedicates the necessary time and resources to help his or her patient remain calm and safe throughout a PTH test. This doctor offers insights into all aspects of PTH testing and helps his or her patient prepare accordingly. Plus, when the doctor receives a patient’s PTH test results, he or she explains the results and offers a custom treatment plan tailored to his patient’s needs.
Schedule a PTH Test with Dr. Babak Larian of the CENTER for Advanced Parathyroid Surgery
A PTH test offers a great option to help an individual diagnose and treat HPT before it gets out of hand. The longer HPT goes untreated, the more likely it becomes that an individual experiences nausea, lethargy, and other long-lasting health problems. Now, with a PTH test, an individual can receive an accurate HPT diagnosis and work with a doctor to quickly treat his or her HPT symptoms.
Dr. Larian of the CENTER for Advanced Parathyroid Surgery offers PTH testing, along with a minimally invasive parathyroidectomy (MIP) procedure. He conducts comprehensive testing to properly diagnose HPT. If a patient receives an HPT diagnosis and qualifies for MIP, Dr. Larian then crafts a treatment plan to ensure that this individual can cure his or her HPT.
Dr. Larian is available to meet with an individual to discuss his or her symptoms, perform PTH testing, and offer a personalized treatment recommendation. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Larian, please contact us online or call us today at 310-461-0300.