Increased identification of parathyroid glands using near infrared light during thyroid and parathyroid surgery

Surg Endosc. 2017 Sep;31(9):3737-3742. doi: 10.1007/s00464-017-5424-1. Epub 2017 Mar 31.


Background: Parathyroid gland (PG) identification during thyroid and parathyroid surgery is challenging. Accidental parathyroidectomy increases the rate of postoperative hypocalcaemia. Recently, autofluorescence with near infrared light (NIRL) has been described for PG visualization. The aim of this study is to analyze the increased rate of visualization of PGs with the use of NIRL compared to white light (WL).

Materials and methods: All patients undergoing thyroid and parathyroid surgery were included in this study. PGs were identified with both NIRL and WL by experienced head and neck surgeons. The number of PGs identified with NIRL and WL were compared. The identification of PGs was correlated to age, sex, and histopathological diagnosis.

Results: Seventy-four patients were included in the study. The mean age was 48.4 (SD ±13.5) years old. Mean PG fluorescence intensity (47.60) was significantly higher compared to the thyroid gland (22.32) and background (9.27) (p < 0.0001). The mean number of PGs identified with NIRL and WL were 3.7 and 2.5 PG, respectively (p < 0.001). The difference in the number of PGs identified with NIRL and WL and fluorescence intensity was not related to age, sex, or histopathological diagnosis, with the exception of the diagnosis of thyroiditis, in which there was a significant increase in the number of PGs visualized with NIRL (p = 0.026).

Conclusion: The use of NIRL for PG visualization significantly increased the number of PGs identified during thyroid and parathyroid surgery, and the differences in fluorescent intensity among PGs, thyroid glands, and background were not affected by age, sex, and histopathological diagnosis.

Keywords: Endocrine surgery; Fluorescence; Parathyroid gland autofluorescence; Parathyroid gland identification; Parathyroid surgery; Thyroid surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neck / surgery
  • Parathyroid Glands / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parathyroid Glands / surgery
  • Parathyroidectomy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared* / methods
  • Thyroid Gland / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Gland / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Treatment Outcome