Purpose: Our purpose was to assess the clinical value and additional benefit of fusion single-photon computed tomography (SPECT) and computed tomography (CT) images in locating the parathyroids in a selected group of patients affected by primary (PHP) and secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHP).
Materials and methods: Sixteen patients (11 women and five men; age range 35-80 years) with severe hyperparathyroidism (HP) (ten PHP, six SHP) were studied by ultrasound (US), and, after i.v. injection of 370 MBq of 99mTc-sestamibi, by planar parathyroid scintigraphy, SPECT and SPECT/CT using a dual-detector scintillation camera GE Infinia Hawkeye. All patients underwent parathyroidectomy.
Results: US findings were inconclusive in 12/16 patients affected by multinodular goitre, and two probable eutopic parathyroid glands were identified. "Double phase" parathyroid scintigraphy identified 14 probable parathyroid glands, SPECT 23 (14 ectopic and nine eutopic) and SPECT/CT confirmed all 23 probable parathyroid lesions, offering more precise localisation and an evident improvement in diagnostic accuracy. Sixteen of these foci of increased uptake were hyperplastic parathyroid glands, six were adenomas, one was a parathyroid carcinoma and one was a thyroid follicular carcinoma. Surgical detection of the 23 sestamibi-positive lesions was correctly matched with 100% of SPECT/CT images and 61% of SPECT data alone. Hybrid imaging thus provided additional data in 39% of lesions, and in three patients with retrotracheal glands, it modified the surgical approach.
Conclusions: We believe 99mTc-sestamibi SPECT/CT to be a more reliable presurgical method to study a patient subgroup affected by PHP or SHP in whom conventional US and other scintigraphic methods have failed for intrinsic reasons due to the concomitant presence of multinodular goitre or ectopic parathyroid gland. The additional practical benefit derived from this methodology was evident. In fact, anatomical information provided by CT enables precise localisation of the functional abnormalities highlighted by SPECT, and both are essential to a correct surgical approach.