The utility of parathyroid autofluorescence as an adjunct in thyroid and parathyroid surgery 2023

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Head & neck


Thyroid and parathyroid surgery requires careful dissection around the vascular pedicle of the parathyroid glands to avoid excessive manipulation of the tissues. If the blood supply to the parathyroid glands is disrupted, or the glands are inadvertently removed, temporary and/or permanent hypocalcemia can occur, requiring post-operative exogenous calcium and vitamin D analogues to maintain stable levels. This can have a significant impact on the quality of life of patients, particularly if it results in permanent hypocalcemia. For over a decade, parathyroid tissue has been noted to have unique intrinsic properties known as "fluorophores," which fluoresce when excited by an external light source. As a result, parathyroid autofluorescence has emerged as an intra-operative technique to help with identification of parathyroid glands and to supplement direct visualization during thyroidectomy and parathyroidectomy. Due to the growing body of literature surrounding Near Infrared Autofluorescence (NIRAF), we sought to review the value of using autofluorescence technology for parathyroid detection during thyroid and parathyroid surgery. A literature review of parathyroid autofluorescence was performed using PubMED. Based on the reviewed literature and expert surgeons' opinions who have used this technology, recommendations were made. We discuss the current available technologies (image vs. probe approach) as well as their limitations. We also capture the opinions and recommendations of international high-volume endocrine surgeons and whether this technology is of value as an intraoperative adjunct. The utility and value of this technology seems promising and needs to be further defined in different scenarios involving surgeon experience and different patient populations and conditions.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Parathyroid Glands; Thyroid Gland; Hypocalcemia; Quality of Life; Optical Imaging; Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared; Thyroidectomy; Parathyroidectomy

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print





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