What is the role of imaging studies in the workup of primary hyperparathyroidism?

Updated: Dec 24, 2020
  • Author: Lawrence Kim, MD, FACS, FACE; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Imaging studies are not used to make the diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism (which is based on laboratory data) or to make a decision about whether to pursue surgical therapy (which is based on clinical criteria). Imaging studies are used to guide the surgeon once surgical therapy has been decided. If a limited parathyroid exploration is to be attempted, a localizing study is necessary. Other uses of imaging studies in the initial evaluation of a patient with primary hyperparathyroidism are controversial.

For many patients, the recommendation remains for complete parathyroid exploration with resection of all involved glands. Many surgeons agree that imaging studies are not required when this surgical treatment is chosen. However, in patients who have recurrent or persistent hyperparathyroidism after a previous surgical exploration, an imaging test to localize involved glands is definitely indicated.

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