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Langenbecks Arch Surg. 1998 Apr;383(2):174-9.

Reoperation for persistent or recurrent primary hyperparathyroidism.

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Service de chirurgie generale et endocrinienne, Clinique chirurgicale adultes est, Chru Lille Hopital Huriez, France.



To analyse the causes and outcome of reoperations for persistent or recurrent primary hyperparathyroidism (HPT).


We reviewed the medical records of 38 patients who underwent reoperation between December 1965 and April 1997 for persistent or recurrent primary HPT. During this period of time, 1448 patients underwent operation for primary HPT, 294 for renal HPT and 58 for questionable disease, i. e. a total of 1800. In the 1448 cases of HPT, 22 patients were reoperated after a first cervicotomy in the institution, i. e. a first reoperation rate of 1.5%. Sixteen patients were referred after unsuccessful parathyroid surgery. Six patients were reoperated on twice and one patient seven times for a graft-dependent recurrence.


Reasons for failed parathyroid operations included tumour tissue in ectopic location (75%) or tumour tissue that had not been seen in normal position (19%), parathyreomatosis (2%), parathyroid cancer (2%) and graft-dependent hypercalcaemia (2%). Of the ectopic glands, 45 % were intrathymic, 12.5% intrathyroidal, 7.5% retro-oesophageal, 7.5% in the carotid sheath, 5% interthyrotracheal, 5% in the mediastinum (extrathymic), 5% in the aorto-pulmonary window, 2.5% undescended, 2.5% overdescended and 2.5% intertracheooesophageal. Of the patients, 38% had uniglandular lesions, 60% multiglandular lesions, and 2% parathyroid cancer. The histologically confirmed cause of HPT was adenoma in 50% of cases, hyperplasia in 38% and "normal" but overweight glands in 9.5%. Of the 38 patients studied, 15 presented one or more supernumerary glands (fifth to eighth gland). Reoperation was performed through a cervical incision in 82% of cases and using a mediastinal approach in 18% (8 median sternotomies, 1 thoracoscopy). The success rate of the reoperations was 92%. A total of 8% of patients suffered permanent unilateral vocal cord paralysis; 5% are definitely hypocalcaemic. The sensitivities of preoperative localization studies ranged from 69% for sestamibi scan and 63% for selective venous catheterization to 16% for computed tomography.


Repeated parathyroidectomy can be avoided in more than 98% of patients if an experienced surgeon performs bilateral cervical exploration during the initial parathyroid operation. For patients with persistent or recurrent primary HPT, preoperative localization studies and a focused surgical approach can result in a 92% success rate with a minimal complication rate.

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