Total parathyroidectomy without autotransplantation for renal hyperparathyroidism: experience with a qPTH-controlled protocol

World J Surg. 2006 May;30(5):743-51. doi: 10.1007/s00268-005-0379-0.


Background: Controversy regarding the optimal surgical treatment for secondary hyperparathyroidism (sHPT) continues. Subtotal parathyroidectomy (PTX) with a small remnant and total parathyroidectomy with autotransplantation prevail, although impaired by considerable recurrence rates. Concerns about postoperative management and long-term supplementation prevent broader acceptance of total parathyroidectomy without autotransplantation.

Materials and methods: The standardized surgical procedure with intraoperative PTH assessment (qPTH) included cervical thymectomy, histological proof of four parathyroid specimens and obligatory cryopreservation of parathyroid tissue in all 23 patients undergoing total PTX without autotransplantation. Whenever qPTH did not normalize, complete cervical exploration of ectopic sites was performed. Another 64 patients with subtotal PTX for sHPT served as comparison for the postoperative course.

Results: There were 13 primary and 10 completion (5 persistent, 5 recurrent sHPT) total PTX with 14 concurrent thyroid resections performed. Mean preoperative PTH was 1.351 pg/ml (12-72 pg/ml) and serum calcium was 2.5 mmol/l (2.25-2.5 mmol/l). PTH showed intraoperative normalization in 15 patients and a 50% PTH reduction from preoperative values in all. Postoperative course was not significantly different from the subtotal PTX group and showed PTH within the normal range for 5 patients (4 < 35 pg/ml), 7 with PTH < 12 pg/ml, and 4 without measurable PTH. In 4 patients PTH did not normalize postoperatively. Serum calcium levels were below normal in all patients: < 2.25 mmol/l in 9, < 2.00 mmol/l in 7, and <1.8 mmol/l in 6 patients. Only 1 patient required intermittent early postoperative i.v. calcium supplementation, 6 patients received oral calcium and vitamin D supplement for low calcium levels, but no severe hypocalcemic symptoms were encountered. Mean postoperative hospital stay was 5 days. No recurrent laryngeal nerve palsies were encountered. Complications were two cervical bleedings following postoperative hemodialysis requiring evacuation.

Conclusions: Total PTX without autotransplantation proves to be an equally safe and successful procedure for sHPT as subtotal PTX or total PTX with autotransplantation. Measurable PTH after total PTX as demonstrated in this study, supports the idea of uncontrollable isolated cell nests that are inevitably prone to stimulated growth with time. Therefore, total PTX is superior with regard to prevention of recurrence. Adequate supplementation with calcium and vitamin D, often necessary after subtotal PTX to suppress inadequate PTH and protect from recurrence, will prevent severe hypocalcemia and with the modern aluminium-diminishing dialysis regimen, development of adynamic bone disease appears less likely than feared. If necessary, cryopreserved parathyroid tissue can be autotransplanted on demand.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / surgery*
  • Intraoperative Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Glands / transplantation*
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood*
  • Parathyroidectomy / methods*
  • Recurrence
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Parathyroid Hormone