Our endocrine surgery program is led by Drs. Edwin Kaplan, Raymon Grogan and Peter Angelos.
At the University of Chicago, our team is experienced in the treatment of complicated endocrine disorders, including diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands as well as unusual islet cell tumors of the pancreas. Our endocrine surgeons work closely with colleagues in medical endocrinology, nuclear medicine, radiology, pathology and gastroenterology to provide comprehensive multidisciplinary care for patients with endocrine surgical disorders. This multidisciplinary approach provides comprehensive patient care that addresses the hormonal impact of the tumors in addition to the surgical removal of the tumor.
Patients are often sent to see a surgeon when they have a thyroid nodule, thyroid cancer, goiter or sometimes for Graves' Disease. The surgical treatment of each condition requires extensive experience and meticulous surgical skills since the risks of thyroid surgery can include injury of the nerves that control the vocal cords and injury of the parathyroid glands that control the calcium level in the body. Although risks of these complications occurring are quite low, the skill and experience of the surgeon is critical in minimizing the risks. The University of Chicago endocrine surgeons are well-versed in minimally invasive techniques and strive to provide the safest possible operations with the best possible cosmetic results.
Patients are often diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid glands) when they have elevated calcium levels on blood tests. The confirmation of hyperparathyroidism requires specialized testing. Hyperparathyroidism is a common cause of kidney stones and osteoporosis. Many patients experience bone pain, decreased energy levels and sometimes muscle weakness.
Surgery for the treatment of hyperparathyroidism is delicate and demanding. Surgeons must have the experience to locate parathyroid glands, which are sometimes in unusual areas in the neck or upper chest. The endocrine surgeons at the University of Chicago utilize the latest technology to identify the abnormal parathyroid gland prior to entering the operating room. During the procedure, our surgeons check patients' hormone levels with rapid testing equipment to ensure a successful operation. Our surgeons have experience with the latest minimally invasive techniques and apply them whenever appropriate.
The adrenal glands are two small-pyramid shaped organs that are located on top of the kidneys near the back of the abdomen. Tumors of the adrenal glands are unusual, which means most surgeons without a specialty in this area will not have much experience in treating them. The treatment of adrenal tumors requires careful testing prior to surgery to decide if the tumor is producing excessive amounts of hormones. Tumors such as pheochromocytomas, aldosteronomas and cortisol-secreting tumors (causing Cushing's Syndrome) may be found. Each one of these requires a knowledgeable team of physicians to ensure that the hormonal effects of the tumor are managed before, during and sometimes after surgery. Occasionally, tumors of the adrenal gland need to be removed even when they are not making excessive amounts of hormones. The University of Chicago endocrine surgeons have extensive experience in treating all types of adrenal tumors. Minimally invasive (laparoscopic) techniques are utilized whenever possible.
Islet Cell Tumors of the Pancreas
The pancreas has islet cells that produce many different hormones that can significantly affect a person's health. Surgery is necessary when excessive hormones are caused by islet cell tumors such as insulinomas, gastrinomas and glucagonomas. The endocrine surgeons at the University of Chicago have the experience and expertise to safely and effectively treat patients with these rare and challenging tumors.
All of these complicated disorders require the special expertise that the University of Chicago endocrine surgeons provide to their patients in a personalized and compassionate manner. Our philosophy is to treat every patient as an individual. We will work with our colleagues to identify a comprehensive care plan for each patient.