Can ultrasound be used as the primary screening modality for the localization of parathyroid disease prior to surgery for primary hyperparathyroidism? A review of 440 cases

ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2011;73(2):116-20. doi: 10.1159/000323912. Epub 2011 Mar 10.


Background/aims: Sestamibi scintigraphy and neck ultrasonography have both been proposed as screening modalities for the detection of abnormal parathyroid glands in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism. As a result, many surgeons use both techniques prior to surgery. The goal of this study was to independently evaluate both ultrasound and sestamibi as single-modality preoperative screening tools for primary hyperparathyroidism.

Methods: A retrospective review of consecutive patients who underwent surgery for primary hyperparathyroidism from January 1999 to December 2009. Imaging results were compared to surgical findings.

Results: 440 patients were found to meet inclusion criteria. Sensitivities for correct localization of a single parathyroid adenoma for sestamibi versus ultrasound were: 83% (95% CI 78-86) versus 72% (95% CI 67-76). Ultrasound operator had no influence on sensitivity, and ultrasound identified nodular thyroid disease in 31% of patients.

Conclusion: Ultrasonography alone can be used as the primary screening modality in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism. Ultrasound sensitivity is conserved despite operator variability, and identifies concomitant thyroid pathology.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / surgery*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Young Adult