Unilateral versus bilateral neck exploration for primary hyperparathyroidism - Five-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial
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Objective: To compare long-term patient outcome in a prospective randomized controlled trial between unilateral and bilateral neck exploration for primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT). Summary Background Data: Minimal invasive and/or focused parathyroidectomy has challenged the traditional bilateral neck exploration for pHPT. Between 1997 and 2001, we conducted the first unselected randomized controlled trial of unilateral versus bilateral neck exploration for pHPT. The results showed that unilateral exploration is a surgical strategy with distinct advantages in the early postoperative period. However, concerns have been raised that limited parathyroid exploration could increase the risk for recurrent pHPT during long-term follow-up. Methods: Ninety-one patients with the diagnosis of pHPT were randomized to unilateral or bilateral neck exploration. Preoperative scintigraphy and intraoperative parathyroid hormone measurement guided the unilateral exploration. Gross morphology and frozen section determined the extent of parathyroid tissue resection in the bilateral group. Follow-up was performed after 6 weeks, I year, and 5 years postoperatively. Results: Seventy-one patients were available for 5-year follow-up. There were no differences in serum ionized calcium and parathyroid hormone, respectively, between patients in the unilateral and bilateral group. Overall 6 patients have been found to have persistent (n = 3) or recurrent (n = 3) pHPT; 4 patients in the unilateral group (3 of these 4 patients were bilaterally explored) and 2 patients in the bilateral group. Three of 6 failures were unexpectedly found to have multiple endocrine neoplasia mutations. One patient with solitary adenoma in the bilateral group still required vitamin D substitution 5 years after surgery. Conclusion: Unilateral neck exploration with intraoperative parathyroid hormone assessment provides the same long-term results as bilateral neck exploration, and is thus a valid strategy for the surgical treatment of pHPT.