Subtotal parathyroidectomy may be indicated in patients with chronic renal failure and tertiary hyperparathyroidism, a population at increased risk for central venous stenosis (CVS) due to repeated vascular access. Here we report a case of complete upper airway obstruction precipitated by subtotal parathyroidectomy with ligation of anterior jugular vein collaterals in a patient with occult CVS. This case demonstrates a previously unreported risk of anterior neck surgery in patients with chronic renal failure. We present a review of the literature and discuss elements of the history and physical examination suggestive of occult CVS, with additional workup proposed for appropriate cases. Recommendations are discussed for perioperative and postoperative care in patients at increased risk for CVS.