Haemorrhage of a parathyroid adenoma is a rare clinical presentation. This report describes a previously fit and well 54-year-old woman who presented with acute neck swelling and pain with an overlying ecchymosis. Admission laboratory tests revealed a raised parathyroid hormone and hypercalcaemia. A computed tomography (CT) scan showed widespread anterior cervical haemorrhage and a lesion at the inferior pole of the left thyroid gland. A working diagnosis of spontaneous haemorrhage from a parathyroid adenoma was made. As she was haemodynamically stable, she was treated conservatively with a period of observation in hospital to monitor for signs of neck organ compression. Follow-up imaging with CT, ultrasound and sestamibi confirmed the likely source of haemorrhage as a parathyroid nodule with significant vascularity. The diagnosis was confirmed on histopathological analysis after elective surgical exploration of the neck 6 months after her presentation. This revealed a benign parathyroid adenoma with evidence of acute and chronic bleeding. The patient made a full recovery with immediate normalisation of her biochemistry post-operatively. Despite developing a hoarse voice in the immediate post-operative period, this resolved completely within 1 month. This case report provides further evidence to support a minimal delay for elective surgery after conservative management to reduce the risks associated with recurrent bleeding.
Haemorrhage of a parathyroid adenoma should be a differential for all cases of acute cervical swelling or ecchymosis with no precipitating factor.
The clerking should identify any risk factors for endocrine disease.
Blood tests to screen for abnormal parathyroid biochemistry should be performed on admission.
Detailed imaging of the neck is essential to identify the source of haemorrhage and risk of compression to vital neck organs.
Conservative management is a suitable option for patients who remain haemodynamically stable but all should undergo a period of observation in hospital.
Conservatively managed patients should be considered for definitive surgical exploration within a month of presentation to avoid the risks of recurrent bleeding.