Cost-effectiveness of preoperative sestamibi scan for primary hyperparathyroidism is dependent solely upon the surgeon's choice of operative procedure

J Am Coll Surg. 1998 Mar;186(3):293-305. doi: 10.1016/s1072-7515(98)00016-7.


Background: In 1991, a National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel stated that preoperative localization for primary hyperparathyroidism is not cost effective. Since then, the sestamibi scan has been applied to parathyroid disease with excellent results, even allowing unilateral exploration under local anesthesia.

Study design: A metaanalysis of the English literature over the past 10 years was performed to determine the collective sensitivity and specificity of sestamibi scanning to establish its utility in directing a unilateral procedure. The cost effectiveness of scanning all patients with sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism was examined by determining the costs of seven operative technique-dependent variables that could be reduced with a limited procedure.

Results: The average sensitivity and specificity of sestamibi were 90.7% and 98.8%, respectively, indicating its ability to guide an accurate unilateral exploration. The analysis of 6,331 patients showed that 87% had solitary adenomas. An average cost savings of $650 was demonstrated for a unilateral operation, which could be realized in as many as 90% (sestamibi sensitivity) of those with solitary adenomas.

Conclusions: A preoperative sestamibi scan is specific enough in identifying solitary adenomas to allow unilateral exploration with a < 1% failure rate. The sensitivity of this scan suggests that 78% of all patients with sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism (90% of the 87% with solitary adenomas) are candidates for unilateral exploration. This rate is significantly higher than the 51% rate at which scanning all patients becomes cost effective.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenoma / economics
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hyperparathyroidism / economics
  • Hyperparathyroidism / surgery*
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / economics
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Parathyroidectomy / methods*
  • Patient Selection
  • Preoperative Care / economics
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / economics*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi / economics*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi