Acute airway compromise due to parathyroid tumour apoplexy: an exceptionally rare and potentially life-threatening presentation.

BACKGROUND: Spontaneous haemorrhage into a parathyroid adenoma is a rare and potentially life-threatening presentation.

CASE PRESENTATION: We report the case of a 45 year old female recently diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism who presented with chest discomfort and acute airway compromise due to spontaneous extracapsular haemorrhage into a parathyroid adenoma. Computed tomography (CT) imaging showed a hypopharyngeal haematoma extending 10 cm into the superior mediastinum. Surgical decompression of the cyst followed by enbloc resection of the parathyroid tumour was performed after elective intubation. Calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels had fallen prior to surgery and remain normal post-operatively.

CONCLUSION: Spontaneous parathyroid haemorrhage should be considered in any patient with unexplained spontaneous cervical haemorrhage, particularly if there is a history of hyperparathyroidism. Initial evaluation of such patients should include serum calcium and PTH as well as imaging.