Hypothesis: The approach to surgery for primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is controversial. To determine whether routine bilateral neck exploration increases the detection of multiple-gland disease compared with a focused unilateral approach, we compared the incidence of single vs multiple-gland disease in patients undergoing surgical treatment for PHPT as a function of unilateral or bilateral exploration.
Data sources: From 1993 through 1997, 214 consecutive patients underwent initial bilateral neck exploration for PHPT by a single surgeon. Each patient underwent the surgical procedure without prior localizing studies. Four parathyroid glands were identified, and abnormal glands were excised. The results were compared with published studies of patients who underwent either bilateral neck exploration or focused unilateral neck exploration for PHPT.
Study selection: All reported studies from 1995 through 2001 in a MEDLINE search using the terms "parathyroidectomy" or "primary hyperparathyroidism and surgery" and either "bilateral" or "conventional" or "minimally invasive," "selective," or "unilateral."
Data extraction: The studies were analyzed for numbers of patients and a final diagnosis of either a single adenoma or multiple-gland disease (double adenoma or hyperplasia). Proportions were compared statistically with a chi(2) test.
Data synthesis: In our series of 214 patients who underwent bilateral neck exploration, 79.4% had a single adenoma, and 20.6% had multiple-gland disease. Of 2166 patients in 14 studies who underwent bilateral neck exploration, 79.7% had a single adenoma, and 19.3% had multiple-gland disease. Of 2095 patients in 31 studies with a focused unilateral approach, 92.5% had a single adenoma, whereas only 5.3% had multiple-gland disease. The incidence of multiple-gland disease was significantly lower among patients treated with a focused unilateral approach compared with a bilateral approach as used in our series and the literature (P<.001).
Conclusion: The data suggest that a focused unilateral surgical approach for PHPT may underestimate the incidence of multiple-gland disease.