Postoperative Hypoparathyroidism in Thyroid Surgery: Anatomic-Surgical Mapping of the Parathyroids and Implications for Thyroid Surgery

Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 30;9(1):15700. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-52189-3.


Hypoparathyroidism remains one of the most common complications in thyroid surgery. This study aims for an improved understanding of the complexity of the blood supply and the localisation of the parathyroids compared to the two most important intraoperative landmarks: the inferior laryngeal nerve (ILN) and Zuckerkandl's tubercle (ZT). We examined 103 laryngeal compounds to classify the blood supply and the localisation of the parathyroids. For intraoperative localisation we defined a Cartesian coordinate system with the ZT plane as x-axis and the course of the inferior laryngeal nerve as y-axis. The inferior thyroid artery (ITA) mainly supplies the parathyroids, whereas the superior thyroid artery provides a backup supply. It must be pointed out that 8.2% of parathyroids receive their blood directly from the thyroid gland. 73.5% of all parathyroids lie within 1 cm of the ILN and 1 cm cranial and 2.5 cm caudal to the ZT plane. Our described perimeters mark the most crucial areas during surgery and provide the surgeon with an anatomic mapping showing areas of special carefulness needed. One should keep bearing in mind all possible blood supply types of the parathyroids and therefore all branches should be handled with care.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoparathyroidism / etiology
  • Hypoparathyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Larynx / physiopathology
  • Larynx / surgery
  • Male
  • Olfactory Tubercle / physiopathology
  • Olfactory Tubercle / surgery
  • Parathyroid Glands / physiopathology
  • Parathyroid Glands / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve / physiopathology
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve / surgery*
  • Thyroid Gland / physiopathology
  • Thyroid Gland / surgery*
  • Thyroidectomy / adverse effects*