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J Am Coll Surg. 2014 Apr;218(4):674-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2013.12.021. Epub 2013 Dec 24.

Surgeon-driven thyroid interrogation of patients presenting with primary hyperparathyroidism.

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Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY. Electronic address:
Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY.



Primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) is an increasingly prevalent disease affecting all age groups. The authors sought to determine the impact of a "thyroid interrogation" practice protocol on the surgical treatment of patients with the diagnosis of pHPT referred to a single surgeon.


We performed a retrospective review of prospectively gathered data on parathyroidectomy (PTX) patients undergoing both a prospective clinical thyroid evaluation and thyroid ultrasound between January 2008 and October 2012.


Only 5.6% of 468 PTX patients were referred to a single surgeon for both parathyroid and thyroid surgical evaluation; 31% of patients had known pre-existing thyroid disease (hypothyroidism most commonly), and 22% of patients had palpable thyroid abnormalities unrecognized in 67% of cases by the referring physician. Of the 468 patients, 2.6% had a history of classic head and neck radiation exposure, 2.6% a history of radio-iodine treatment, and 3% a family history of thyroid cancer. Thyroid abnormalities were found on ultrasound in 61% of patients, and 26% of patients underwent thyroid biopsies. Parathyroid and thyroid surgery was combined for 18.4% of patients; indications included obstructive symptoms (3.2%), hyperthyroidism (0.9%), intraoperative findings (5.1%), and concern for malignancy (9.2%). Malignancy was diagnosed in 23 patients (4.9%), only 8 of whom had been referred for thyroid evaluation.


The majority of patients referred for PTX had evidence of thyroid pathology. For an important minority of these patients, benign and malignant disease was identified that merited surgical treatment at the time of PTX. We recommend comprehensive thyroid evaluation of patients referred for PTX.

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