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Preserving Parathyroid Gland Vasculature to Reduce Post-thyroidectomy Hypocalcemia

Abstract

Background

The failure to preserve parathyroid function in patients who have undergone total thyroidectomy is of major concern, because hypocalcemia is difficult to prevent and remains a common postoperative complication. Here, we describe procedures designed to preserve the vasculature supplying the parathyroid glands and examine both recent outcomes and retrospective reports of results obtained prior to the application of these preservation techniques.

Methods

Our technique for preserving parathyroid function during thyroidectomy was adopted in 2009 and involves separating a relatively long segment of a vessel distally from the thyroid gland. We reviewed the medical records of 1,411 patients who underwent total thyroidectomy, with or without lateral neck dissection, at the Samsung Medical Center from January 2006 through June 2014 to determine outcomes. Patients were divided into three groups according to the time period during which the surgery took place: Group A, 2006–2008 (before the vasculature-preserving technique was applied); Group B, 2009–2011 (the time when the technique was first adopted); and Group C, 2012–2014 (more recent results of the technique). We analyzed the incidence of hypoparathyroidism in the three groups, as well as risk factors that influenced its development.

Results

The rates of transient and permanent hypoparathyroidism in Group A were 25.4 and 4.3 %, respectively. However, the incidence of hypoparathyroidism decreased significantly over time after the vasculature-preserving procedure was adopted. Transient hypoparathyroidism developed in 4.8 % of Group C patients, and only four (0.7 %) of the 565 patients in this group required calcium supplementation, despite the fact that a greater number of patients were included who underwent total thyroidectomy combined with lateral neck dissection. Although female sex and lateral neck dissection tended to increase the rate of transient hypoparathyroidism, multivariate analysis showed that the vasculature-preserving procedure was the only significant risk factor related to postoperative hypoparathyroidism.

Conclusion

The blood flow of the final branch to the parathyroid gland is mostly in the lateral-to-medial direction; therefore, mobilization and preservation of the vessels lateral to the gland is essential to prevent devascularization of the parathyroid gland.

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Correspondence to Jung-Han Kim.

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Park, I., Rhu, J., Woo, JW. et al. Preserving Parathyroid Gland Vasculature to Reduce Post-thyroidectomy Hypocalcemia. World J Surg 40, 1382–1389 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00268-016-3423-3

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Keywords

  • Thyroid Gland
  • Parathyroid Gland
  • Total Thyroidectomy
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Central Neck Dissection