Purpose: To describe localization studies in nine patients with ectopic parathyroid adenomas in the aortopulmonary window.
Materials and methods: Nine patients with ectopic parathyroid tissue (eight adenomas, one hyperplastic gland) in the aortopulmonary window were examined with ultrasound (US), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and scintigraphy. Diagnostic arteriography (n = 4) and venous sampling (n = 3) were performed in the first four patients; arteriography for the purpose of staining was attempted in the last five patients.
Results: The results of CT and MR imaging studies were positive in eight of nine patients (89%) and five of eight patients (63%), respectively. The results of thallium/technetium scintigraphy were negative in three patients scanned (0%), but the results of a repeat study in one patient were positive (33%). Sestamibi scans were positive in six of six patients (100%). Single photon emission CT was performed in all six patients and enabled distinction between adenomas in the aortopulmonary window and those in the thymus.
Conclusion: Ectopic parathyroid glands in the aortopulmonary window are usually detected at sestamibi scintigraphy, and SPECT is helpful in distinguishing these adenomas from more common adenomas in the anterior mediastinum. CT and MR imaging studies can also enable this distinction, but imaging must extend below the aortic arch.