Background: We hypothesized that a higher frequency of multigland disease and higher cure rate would result if routine four-gland exploration (4GL) was used as compared with focused parathyroidectomy (FP) for treatment of primary hyperparathyroidism. Study Design: During a 5-year period, data from two academic endocrine surgical practices were retrospectively reviewed for patients having an operation for primary hyperparathyroidism. Three hundred ninety-five consecutive patients underwent 4GL at one institution (A), and 405 consecutive patients underwent FP with selective use of 4GL at the other institution (B). The main outcomes measures were gender, preoperative imaging, surgical findings, gland weight, and operative success. Results: Three hundred ten (78%) patients at institution A were women, and 292 (72%) at institution B were women (p < 0.05). Routine 4GL strategy at institution A yielded a 16.5% frequency of multigland disease; and an FP strategy at institution B yielded 11.1% multigland disease (p = 0.028). At both institutions, single adenomas weighed more than multigland disease. Gland weights were not significantly different between the two institutions. Nine of 395 (2.3%) patients at institution A remained hypercalcemic postoperatively compared with 15 of 405 (3.7%) at B (p = 0.24; not significant). Conclusions: A greater frequency of multigland disease was found with routine 4GL. There was no statistically significant difference in operative success between the two approaches. Sound surgical technique and intraoperative judgment, including interpretation of intraoperative parathyroid hormone values, will result in a high success rate, regardless of the operative strategy chosen for primary hyperparathyroidism.
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