World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 538–543 | Cite as

Intraoperative Determination of PTH Concentrations in Fine Needle Tissue Aspirates to Identify Parathyroid Tissue During Parathyroidectomy

  • János Horányi
  • László Duffek
  • Rezső Szlávik
  • István Takács
  • Miklós Tóth
  • László RomicsJr.



Exact tissue identification during parathyroidectomy is essential to successfully cure hyperparathyroidism. PTH level determination from tissue aspirates has been advocated as a “biochemical frozen section” for parathyroid tissue identification. We investigated the sensitivity and specificity of this method in a large cohort of consecutive patients who underwent parathyroidectomy in a tertiary referral center.


PTH levels of 359 tissue aspirates were measured intraoperatively in 223 consecutive patients from March 2006 to December 2008. Suspected parathyroid and control tissues were aspirated with a standardized technique immediately after their excision. Samples were processed for quick-PTH assay with peripheral blood samples before and after excision. PTH levels from tissue aspirates were correlated with pathological diagnosis. The Mann–Whitney test was used to determine statistical significance (P < 0.05).


A total of 255 parathyroid (196 adenoma, 30 hyperplasia, 4 carcinoma, 25 normal parathyroid) and 104 nonparathyroid tissue (88 thyroid, 16 lymph node, thymus, or fat) aspirates were compared. A highly significant difference was found between PTH levels of parathyroid (8,120 ± 2,711 pg/ml; interquartile range (IQR): 4,949–9,075) and nonparathyroid (0.8 ± 9.29 pg/ml; IQR: 0.4–1.4) tissue aspirates (P < 0.005). This test is 100% sensitive and 100% specific to identify parathyroid tissue for values >84 pg/ml. Furthermore, PTH levels of pathological parathyroid aspirates (8,169 ± 2,597; IQR: 5,634–9,109) were higher than that of normal parathyroid aspirates (4,130 ± 2,952; IQR: 2,569–8,284; P = 0.0011).


PTH level determination from tissue aspirates is a highly reliable, quick, and simple method to differentiate parathyroid and nonparathyroid tissues during parathyroidectomy. This method can obviate frozen sections in patients undergoing surgery for hyperparathyroidism.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • János Horányi
    • 1
  • László Duffek
    • 2
  • Rezső Szlávik
    • 1
  • István Takács
    • 3
  • Miklós Tóth
    • 4
  • László RomicsJr.
    • 5
  1. 1.1st Department of SurgerySemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of Radiology and OncotherapySemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary
  3. 3.1st Department of MedicineSemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary
  4. 4.2nd Department of MedicineSemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary
  5. 5.Victoria Infirmary GlasgowGlasgowUK

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