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The Elusive Parathyroid Adenoma: Techniques for Detection

Devcic, Zlatko MD; Jeffrey, R. Brooke MD; Kamaya, Aya MD; Desser, Terry S. MD

doi: 10.1097/RUQ.0b013e3182a1ba6f
Review Article

The success of minimally invasive surgery for hyperparathyroidism depends on accurate preoperative localization of the hyperfunctioning adenoma with imaging. Ultrasound is an excellent initial modality because it has a high positive predictive value, sensitivity, and specificity, while being inexpensive and noninvasive without use of ionizing radiation. Determining the exact location and number of adenomas is essential, because these factors guide the surgical approach. The goal of this review article was to discuss specific sonographic techniques that can be applied to find even the elusive adenoma, which include (1) compression scanning, (2) color Doppler, (3) scanning regions where ectopic glands may be located, and (4) evaluating intrathyroidal adenomas.

Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.

Received for publication March 4, 2013; accepted April 4, 2013.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Terry S. Desser, MD, Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine 300 Pasteur Dr, Mail Code 5621, Stanford, CA 94305 (e-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins