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Imaging Characteristics of Hyperfunctioning Parathyroid Adenomas Using Multiphase Multidectector Computed Tomography: A Quantitative and Qualitative Approach

Vu, Thinh H. MD*; Guha-Thakurta, Nandita MD*; Harrell, Robyn K. MS; Ahmed, Salmaan MD*; Kumar, Ashok J. MD*; Johnson, Valen E. PhD; Perrier, Nancy D. MD§; Hamberg, Leena M. PhD; Hunter, George J. MD; Schellingerhout, Dawid MD

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: September-October 2011 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p 560-567
doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e31822a1e70

Objective: The objective of the study was to characterize the enhancement pattern of hyperfunctioning parathyroid adenomas on multiphase multidetector computed tomography (CT) or 4-dimensional CT.

Methods: We retrospectively studied the enhancement patterns of 48 pathologically confirmed parathyroid adenomas with 4-dimensional CT, compliant with institutional review and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Region-of-interest analysis was done at baseline and at arterial (25 seconds), venous (55 seconds), and delayed (85 seconds) enhancement phases over the adenoma and adjacent normal thyroid tissue. Qualitative and quantitative analysis was done. Discriminant functions were calculated using a multivariate logistic regression model, and receiver operating characteristic curves were measured.

Results: Adenomas are lower than thyroid in density, demonstrate avid early contrast enhancement, and show rapid wash-out of contrast. Adenomas and thyroid had baseline Hounsfield unit attenuations of 35 ± 11 and 94 ± 21 and enhancement percentage change from baseline to arterial of 493% ± 328% and 132% ± 148%, respectively (P < 0.0001 both). Quantitative analysis showed that these 2 measures of baseline density and the percentage change from baseline to arterial were the most powerful discriminatory features, with contrast wash-out from arterial peak to venous phase being a less powerful discriminator. Several discriminant functions were derived, the best of which was: X = 13.74 − (0.207 × baseline Hounsfield unit) − (0.006 × percent density change from baseline to arterial). X > 0.2 classifies tissue as parathyroid with high certainty (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve = 0.98; specificity, 0.938; sensitivity, 0.999).

Conclusions: Parathyroid adenomas have a characteristic enhancement pattern that can be distinguished from thyroid tissue: the key diagnostic discriminators are baseline density, percentage change in density from baseline to arterial enhancement, and percentage decrease in density from arterial to venous phases.

From the *Department of Radiology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; †US Oncology, The Woodlands; and Departments of ‡Biostatistics, §Surgical Oncology, and ∥Experimental Diagnostic Imaging, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; and ¶Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

Received for publication April 12, 2011; accepted June 20, 2011.

Reprints: Dawid Schellingerhout, MD, 1400 Pressler St, Unit 1482, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.