How are the parathyroid glands identified in a thyroidectomy?

Updated: May 08, 2018
  • Author: Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Once the dissection of the posterior aspect of the thyroid lobe begins, the surgeon and assistants should be vigilant in identifying the parathyroid glands. The superior parathyroid gland can often be found cephalad to the tubercle of Zuckerkandl and can also be found adjacent to the superior pole. The inferior parathyroid gland is usually located in a 1 cm radius around the inferior pole of the thyroid gland and almost always anterior to the plane of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Of note, 3-7% of patients may have supernumerary glands. [16] After identifying the glands, they should be carefully dissected from the thyroid and left in the thyroid bed.

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