Assessing Parathyroid Gland Viability and Predicting Postoperative Hypoparathyroidism in Thyroid Surgery: The Utility of Indocyanine Green Angiography

Sisli Etfal Hastan Tip Bul. 2023 Dec 29;57(4):466-472. doi: 10.14744/SEMB.2023.06691. eCollection 2023.


Objectives: Postoperative hypoparathyroidism is a common complication following thyroidectomy, with the potential for significant morbidity and cost. While various techniques have been proposed for intraoperative parathyroid gland (PG) identification and preservation, indocyanine green (ICG) angiography has emerged as a promising method. In this retrospective study, patients who underwent total thyroidectomy with or without central neck dissection were evaluated for the utility of ICG angiography in identifying PGs and the correlation of ICG scores with postoperative parathyroid function.

Methods: ICG angiography was performed using a standardized protocol, and the degree of PG vascularization was assessed visually. A scoring system was employed based on ICG uptake intensity in PGs, as described in the literature. Pearson's correlation test examined the relationship between the total ICG score and percentage parathyroid hormone (PTH) gradient, postoperative calcium, and PTH levels. In addition, patients with at least one well-vascularized PG were also evaluated.

Results: Twenty-two patients were included in the study. Significant positive correlations were found between the total ICG score and postoperative PTH levels (r=0.549, p=0.008), and a negative correlation with the percentage of PTH gradient (r=-0.504, p=0.01). However, six patients with well-vascularized PGs on ICG angiography still developed postoperative hypoparathyroidism.

Conclusion: ICG angiography offers a potential tool for evaluating PG vascularization during thyroidectomy and predicting the risk of postoperative hypoparathyroidism. However, its application should be used judiciously, and the technique should be improved for PG preservation. Further studies are warranted to better understand its benefits and limitations in thyroid surgery.

Keywords: Fluorescence; ICG; hypoparathyroidism; indocyanine green; parathyroid glands; thyroidectomy.