Sestamibi versus thallium subtraction scintigraphy in parathyroid localization: a prospective comparative study in patients with predominantly mild primary hyperparathyroidism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Technetium 99m sestamibi was recently introduced for the preoperative localization of abnormal parathyroid glands in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism with promising results. However, the sensitivity of sestamibi and thallium to detect abnormal parathyroid glands is partly dependent on the gland size. In this study we compared the sensitivity of sestamibi subtraction scintigraphy with thallium subtraction scintigraphy in patients with predominantly mild increase in serum calcium level.

METHODS: Thirty-nine patients with primary hyperparathyroidism were included. The mean (+/-SD) serum level of calcium was 2.75 +/- 0.17 mmol/L. In 28 (72%) of the patients the serum level of calcium was less than 2.85 mmol/L. These patients were classified as having mild abnormalities in serum calcium. All patients were investigated before operation with both sestamibi and thallium subtraction scintigraphy.

RESULTS: In two patients autonomous thyroid adenomas precluded subtraction scintigraphy. Sestamibi subtraction scintigraphy correctly localized 31 (86%) of 36 parathyroid adenomas compared with only 17 (47%) of 36 by thallium subtraction scintigraphy (p < 0.001). There was one false-positive result in the sestamibi group because of a thyroid adenoma, and two of the scans were negative. Both the sestamibi and the thallium subtraction scintigraphy localized one single enlarged gland in all three patients with multiple gland involvement. In no case was multiglandular disease predicted.

CONCLUSIONS: Sestamibi subtraction scintigraphy is superior to thallium subtraction scintigraphy and has a high sensitivity to localize a solitary parathyroid adenoma in patients with mild increase in serum calcium level. The sensitivity decreases in patients with multiglandular parathyroid disease and concomitant thyroid nodular abnormalities.


External organisations
  • Philipp University of Marburg
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
  • Surgery


  • Adenoma, Female, Humans, Hyperparathyroidism, Male, Parathyroid Neoplasms, Prospective Studies, Radionuclide Imaging, Subtraction Technique, Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi, Thallium Radioisotopes, Comparative Study, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-5
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Jun
Publication categoryResearch