Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy facilitated by intraoperative nuclear mapping

Surgery. 1997 Dec;122(6):998-1003; discussion 1003-4. doi: 10.1016/s0039-6060(97)90201-4.


Background: The inability to predict the location and number of diseased parathyroid glands has precluded the wide acceptance of unilateral neck exploration for primary hyperparathyroidism. We used intraoperative nuclear mapping in patients identified by sestamibi scanning to have a single adenoma in hopes of minimizing operative intervention while maintaining the efficacy of a full exploration.

Methods: Fifteen consecutive patients with primary hyperparathyroidism underwent technetium 99m-labeled sestamibi scanning 3.0 +/- 0.1 hours before operation. Placement of the initial 2.0 cm incision and all dissection were guided by quantitative gamma counting in four neck quadrants with an 11 mm Neoprobe. Ex vivo radioactivity was determined for parathyroid glands, fat, and lymph nodes. Potential radiation hazards were assessed.

Results: Intraoperative nuclear mapping discriminated between 14 solitary adenomas and one patient with four-gland hyperplasia that was not predicted on preoperative sestamibi scanning. Removal of the adenoma resulted in a decline in radioactivity in that quadrant (p < 0.001) and the entire neck (p < 0.05), with equalization of all neck quadrants. Ex vivo counts always identified parathyroid tissue (p < 0.0001 versus fat and lymph node). Adenomas were located in 19 +/- 1.7 minutes through a 2.3 +/- 0.1 cm incision. No significant radiation hazard existed, and no special handling of the specimen was required (0.06 +/- 0.01 mR/hr).

Conclusions: Intraoperative nuclear mapping complements sestamibi scanning to help distinguish single-gland from multigland disease. This technique allows for a minimally invasive operation under local anesthesia in a true outpatient setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenoma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / diagnostic imaging
  • Hyperparathyroidism / surgery*
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Parathyroidectomy*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi*


  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi