Background: Indocyanine green fluorescence angiography (ICGA) is a new adjunct that has been used in surgical procedures to assess blood flow. This study evaluated the utility of ICGA compared to visual inspection to predict parathyroid function, guide autotransplantation and potentially decrease permanent hypoparathyroidism.
Methods: This was a retrospective study of patients who underwent total or near-total thyroidectomy (T-NT) between January 2015 and March 2018. Patients with preoperative hyperparathyroidism and those undergoing reoperation were excluded. Patients who had ICGA were compared to T-NT patients without ICGA. Data were analyzed to assess the frequency of autotransplantation and incidence of hypoparathyroidism between groups.
Results: In total, 210 patients underwent T-NT: 86 with ICGA and 124 without. Autotransplantation was more common in the ICGA group at 36% compared to 12% in the control (p = 0.0001). There was no correlation with at least one normal parathyroid gland on ICGA and postoperative PTH levels (p = 0.75). There was a difference in having normal postoperative PTH when there were at least two normal parathyroid glands (n = 50) compared to patients with less than two normal ICGA glands (n = 36, p = 0.044). Visual assessment and ICGA assessment of vascularity were in agreement, 245/281 (87%). There were 19 glands (6.8%) that would have undergone autotransplant based on visual inspection that had adequate blood supply on ICGA. Transient hypoparathyroidism was present in 45 out of 124 controls (36%) and 32 out of 86 (37%) in the ICG group.
Conclusions: ICGA is a novel technique that may improve the assessment of parathyroid gland blood supply compared to visual inspection. ICGA can guide more appropriate autotransplantation without compromising postoperative parathyroid function. At least two vascularized glands on ICGA may predict postoperative parathyroid gland function.