Original Investigation| Volume 30, ISSUE 5, P881-890, May 2023

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Opportunistic Parathyroid Gland Assessment on Routine CT Could Decrease Morbidity from Undiagnosed Primary Hyperparathyroidism

      Rationale and Objectives

      Gaps in primary hyperparathyroidism diagnosis are well-documented. End-organ damage correlates with disease duration and often occurs before diagnosis. We hypothesize that opportunistic parathyroid gland assessment on routine CT could decrease existing diagnosis gaps. Our purpose is to assess for enlarged parathyroid glands on contrast-enhanced CT acquired prior to biochemical screening and subsequent development of related morbidity.

      Materials and Methods

      This retrospective study included consecutive patients with primary hyperparathyroidism undergoing parathyroidectomy with contrast-enhanced CT including the lower neck and upper chest acquired prior to biochemical screening. One neuroradiologist retrospectively evaluated all CTs for enlarged (estimated weight greater than 60 mg) parathyroid glands. Gold standard operative and pathology reports were correlated with CT findings, and medical records were reviewed for development of primary hyperparathyroidism-related comorbidities.


      The sample comprised 38 patients (30 women, 8 men, median age 60 years) with 70 CTs of interest. The neuroradiologist identified 32 putative enlarged parathyroid glands (median estimated weight 307 mg) in 29 (76%) patients on CTs predating biochemical screening by a median of 30 months. Putative enlarged parathyroid glands on CT corresponded to pathologically proven parathyroid lesions in 26 (90%) patients. Of 26 patients with retrospectively identified pathologically proven parathyroid lesions, 12 (46%) developed at least 1 renal, bone, or neurocognitive comorbidity between CT and subsequent biochemical screening.


      Enlarged parathyroid glands are frequently visible on routine CTs acquired years prior to primary hyperparathyroidism diagnosis. Biochemical screening based on enlarged glands could potentially prevent associated morbidity in almost half of such patients.

      Key Words

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