Preoperative parathyroid scintigraphic lesion localization: accuracy of various types of readings

Radiology. 2008 Jul;248(1):221-32. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2481071066. Epub 2008 May 15.


Purpose: To retrospectively compare the accuracy of various parathyroid scintigraphy readings for single-gland disease (SGD) and multigland disease (MGD) in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, with histologic analysis as the reference standard.

Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained for this HIPAA-compliant study. Records of 462 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism who underwent preoperative imaging with a technetium 99m ((99m)Tc) sestamibi and (99m)TcO4- protocol that consisted of early and late pinhole (99m)Tc sestamibi, pinhole thyroid imaging, image subtraction, and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) were retrospectively reviewed. An experienced nuclear medicine physician without knowledge of other test results or of the final diagnoses graded images on a scale from 0 (definitely normal) to 4 (definitely abnormal). Early pinhole (99m)Tc sestamibi images, late pinhole (99m)Tc sestamibi images, subtraction images, SPECT images, early and late pinhole (99m)Tc sestamibi images, all planar images, and all images--including SPECT images--were read in seven sessions. Receiver operating characteristic curves were generated for each session and were used to calculate sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy.

Results: A total of 534 parathyroid lesions were excised. Of the 462 patients, 409 had one lesion, whereas 53 had multiple lesions. Reading all images together was more accurate (89%, P = .001) than was reading early (79%), late (85%), subtraction (86%), and SPECT (83%) images separately; however, it was not significantly more accurate than reading planar images (88%) or early and late images together (87%). Reading all images was significantly less sensitive in the detection of lesions with a median weight of 600 mg or less than in the detection of lesions with a median weight of more than 600 mg (86% vs 94%, P = .004). Per-lesion sensitivity for reading all images was significantly higher for SGD than for MGD (90% vs 66%, P < .001). Sensitivity of reading all images together in the identification of patients with MGD was 62%.

Conclusion: Reviewing early, late, and subtraction pinhole images together with SPECT images maximizes parathyroid lesion detection accuracy. Test sensitivity is adversely affected by decreasing lesion weight and MGD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / complications
  • Hyperparathyroidism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hyperparathyroidism / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Glands / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / complications
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi