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Acta Med Port. 2013 May-Jun;26(3):195-9. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

[Identification and preservation of parathyroid glands in cadaver parts].

[Article in Portuguese; Abstract available in Portuguese from the publisher]

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Departamento de Anatomia, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.


in English, Portuguese


It is essential to know the thyroid gland morphology and its anatomical relations in the anterior compartment of the neck in order to minimize the rate of thyroid surgery morbidity, especially the lesion of parathyroid glands and laryngeal nerves. The aim of this study was the identification of parathyroid glands in cadaver parts and their histological confirmation.


Twenty cadaver parts were used to simulate thyroidectomies. During dissection, the thyroid glands and eventual parathyroid glands were isolated and then submitted to histological study.


Twenty cadaver parts (anterior cervical organs) were used for macroscopic dissection during which 48 fragments that corresponded to eventual parathyroid glands were isolated, 35 of which were effectively confirmed through histological observation to be parathyroid glands. The 20 cadaver parts were then divided into three groups according to the number of histologically confirmed parathyroid glands. In the first group, composed of 11 cases, all eventual parathyroid glands were confirmed. In the second group, composed of six cases, only some glands were confirmed. In the third group, composed of three cases, none of the possible glands were confirmed. In seven of the 20 isolated thyroid glands, eight parathyroid glands were identified during histological study: four subcapsular, three extra-capsular, one intra-thyroidal. There was no statistical relation in the dimensions of the parathyroid glands.


The knowledge of the anatomy of the central visceral compartment of the neck and its most frequent variations reduces but doesn't eliminate thyroid surgery morbidity, especially parathyroid iatrogenic excision, difficulty which has been demonstrated during the dissection of cadaver parts.

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