Background: Parathyroid glands (PGs) exhibit autofluorescence (AF) when excited by near-infrared laser. This multicenter study aims to analyze how this imaging could facilitate the detection of PGs during thyroidectomy and parathyroidectomy procedures.
Methods: This was a retrospective Institutional Review Board-approved analysis of prospectively collected data at three centers. Near-infrared fluorescence imaging (NIFI) was used to detect AF from PGs during thyroidectomy and parathyroidectomy procedures. Logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the utility of NIFI to identify PGs and concordance at these centers.
Results: Overall, 210 patients underwent total thyroidectomy (n = 95), thyroid lobectomy (n = 41), and parathyroidectomy (n = 74) (n = 70 per center). Using NIFI, AF was detected from 98% of visually identified PGs. Upon initial exploration, 46% of PGs were not visible to the naked eye due to coverage by soft tissue, but AF from these glands could be detected by NIFI without any further dissection. Overall, a median of one PG per patient was detected by NIFI in this fashion before being identified visually (p = nonsignificant between centers). On logistic regression, smaller PGs were more likely to be missed visually, but localized by AF on NIFI (odds ratio with increasing size, 0.91; p = 0.02).
Conclusions: In our experience, NIFI facilitated PG identification by detecting their AF, before conventional recognition by the surgeon, in 37-67% of the time. Despite the variability in this rate across centers, there was a concordance in detecting AF from 97 to 99% of the PGs using NIFI. We suggest the incorporation of AF on NIFI alongside conventional visual cues to aid identification of PGs during neck operations.