Predictors of adenoma size and location in primary hyperparathyroidism

Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2021 Aug;406(5):1607-1614. doi: 10.1007/s00423-021-02179-9. Epub 2021 Apr 30.


Purpose: In primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT), intraoperative localization of the parathyroid adenoma can be challenging, especially in cases of negative preoperative imaging. Since a focused unilateral parathyroidectomy has benefits compared to a conventional bilateral neck exploration, the question arises whether adenoma size prediction can facilitate a targeted approach. We investigated whether single parathyroid adenoma size can be estimated using preoperative parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcium, and phosphate in patients with PHPT. Preoperative imaging accuracy was evaluated.

Methods: The data of 156 patients who underwent curative parathyroidectomy for single adenoma PHPT were analyzed retrospectively. Information obtained included laboratory data, imaging results, intraoperative data, and final pathology. Imaging accuracy was analyzed descriptively. The association between preoperative biochemical markers and adenoma dimensions was investigated using Spearman's correlation coefficient and multivariable regression modeling.

Results: Cervical ultrasound correctly predicted adenoma laterality in 95.5%, sestamibi scintigraphy in 80.6%, both had lower true-positive rates for quadrant prediction. Patients with negative imaging results showed higher thyroid volumes than those with positive results. Adenoma volume was positively correlated with preoperative PTH (p < 0.001) and calcium (p < 0.001) and negatively correlated with preoperative phosphate (p = 0.001). Using these preoperative biochemical markers and patient age and BMI, adenoma volume can be significantly predicted using the multivariable regression algorithm.

Conclusion: Cervical ultrasound is superior to scintigraphy for predicting adenoma location and should be the first-choice imaging method, but both methods may be limited by increased thyroid volume. Large adenomas are more likely with higher PTH, higher calcium, and lower phosphate levels. In cases of undetermined adenoma location, an estimation of adenoma volume via our algorithm could corroborate sonographic volume measurements of the suspected adenoma.

Keywords: Hypercalcemia; Hyperparathyroidism; Intraoperative parathyroid hormone; Parathyroidectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenoma* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary* / surgery
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Parathyroidectomy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi