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Surgery. 1994 Dec;116(6):991-8.

Persistent and recurrent sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism: histopathology, complications, and results of reoperation.

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Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga.



Our purpose was to analyze the causes of persistent and recurrent sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism (PD and RD).


The histopathology, complications, and results of reoperation were studied. Five hundred sixty-eight patients with primary hyperparathyroidism were operated on initially by one surgeon and underwent follow-up examination for 3.7 +/- 3.8 years. During the operation, all parathyroids were sought and confirmed by biopsy. Enlarged glands were resected, and subtotal parathyroidectomy was done for multiglandular disease (hyperplasia).


The cure rate after the initial surgical procedure was 96.4%, PD = 2.8% (16 of 568). At reoperation (10 of 16), nine of 10 were cured (90%) (two adenomas, six hyperplasias, one lung carcinoma). RD was documented (at years 4, 4, 10, 15, 16) in five (0.9%) patients, one with parathyroid carcinoma and four with hyperplasia. Thirty-five patients with PD and two patients with RD were referred for reoperation: 17 with adenomas (eight mediastinal) and 18 with hyperplasias (one mediastinal gland). Preoperative calcium level was higher for PD (12.57 mg/dl) and RD (13.89 mg/dl) versus all cases (12.19 mg/dl) (p < 0.03 and p < 0.0005, respectively). After reoperation, normocalcemia was achieved in 47 (92.%) of 51 patients with PD or RD. Transient hypocalcemia occurred in 22% of patients (permanent, 2.0%) and transient hoarseness in 2.0% of patients (no permanent nerve damage). Permanent hypocalcemia and nerve damage after 568 initial operations were 0% and 0%, respectively. Two perioperative deaths occurred.


We conclude that inadequate neck exploration or resection of hyperplastic tissue accounts for most cases of PD and RD. Optimal results necessitate intraoperative identification of all parathyroids whenever possible, with minimal morbidity.

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