Value of Old Imaging for Patients Undergoing Parathyroidectomy for Primary Hyperparathyroidism

Published:October 20, 2022DOI:



      Although imaging plays no role in diagnosing primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT), preoperative localization is essential for a focused parathyroidectomy. We hypothesized that reviewing imaging obtained prior to PHPT diagnosis can identify enlarged parathyroid glands and provide information that might potentially impact the preoperative evaluation and intraoperative course of patients undergoing parathyroidectomy.


      We included adult patients with PHPT who underwent parathyroidectomy between October 2015 and October 2020 and had contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) imaging of the lower neck and upper chest obtained prior to diagnosis for unrelated indications. A radiologist reviewed the prediagnosis CTs blinded to subsequent parathyroid localization imaging and operative findings. A surgeon assessed the radiologist's findings in the context of each case to determine the potential impact of information from old imaging on surgical decision-making.


      We identified at least one enlarged parathyroid gland on prior contrast-enhanced CT in 30 (75%) of 40 included patients. Despite old imaging enabling correct localization, 60% of these 30 underwent dedicated parathyroid imaging prior to parathyroidectomy. Knowledge of the enlarged parathyroid(s) on prior imaging might have allowed a more focused approach in 10.0% and prompted a more thorough exploration in 13.3%. In the total cohort, reviewing prior imaging could have provided information capable of changing the preoperative evaluation in 52.5% and the operative course in 17.5%.


      The identification of enlarged parathyroid glands on contrast-enhanced CT imaging that predates a diagnosis of PHPT is possible. Prospective studies might verify the impact of these findings on the preoperative evaluation and operative course of patients undergoing parathyroidectomy.


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