Highly Specific Preoperative Selection of Solitary Parathyroid Adenoma Cases in Primary Hyperparathyroidism by Quantitative Image Analysis of the Early-Phase Technetium-99m Sestamibi Scan

J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2018 Oct;62(5):642-648. doi: 10.1111/1754-9485.12753. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


Introduction: Highly specific preoperative localizing test is required to select patients for minimally invasive parathyroidectomy (MIP) in lieu of traditional four-gland exploration. We hypothesized that Tc-99m sestamibi scan interpretation incorporating numerical measurements on the degree of asymmetrical activity from bilateral thyroid beds can be useful in localizing single adenoma for MIP.

Methods: We devised a quantitative interpretation method for Tc-99m sestamibi scan based on the numerically graded asymmetrical activity on early phase. The numerical ratio value of each scan was obtained by dividing the number of counts from symmetrically drawn regions of interest (ROI) over bilateral thyroid beds. The final pathology and clinical outcome of 109 patients were used to perform receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis.

Results: Receiver operating curve analysis revealed the area under the curve (AUC) was calculated to be 0.71 (P = 0.0032), validating this method as a diagnostic tool. The optimal cut-off point for the ratio value with maximal combined sensitivity and specificity was found with corresponding sensitivity of 67.9% (56.5-77.2%, 95% CI) and specificity of 75.0% (52.8-91.8%, 95% CI). An additional higher cut-off with higher specificity with minimal possible sacrifice on sensitivity was also selected, yielding sensitivity of 28.6% (18.8-38.6%, 95% CI) and specificity of 90.0% (69.6-98.8%, 95% CI).

Conclusions: Our results demonstrated that the more asymmetrical activity on the initial phase, the more successful it is to localize a single parathyroid adenoma on sestamibi scans. Using early-phase Tc-99m sestamibi scan only, we were able to select patients for minimally invasive parathyroidectomy with 90% specificity.

Keywords: endocrine imaging; head and neck imaging; quantitative image analysis; sestamibi; solitary adenoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Parathyroidectomy
  • Patient Selection*
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Radionuclide Imaging / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi