Background: Most patients with primary hyperparathyroidism can have a minimally invasive parathyroidectomy based on localization studies showing single-gland disease. In patients with a history of head and neck irradiation, due to the increased risk of multigland disease and risk of concurrent thyroid cancer, minimally invasive parathyroidectomy is considered by some to be a contraindication. We postulated that previous history of head and neck irradiation should not be a contraindication for minimally invasive parathyroidectomy and tested this hypothesis in a prospective cohort of patients undergoing parathyroidectomy for primary hyperparathyroidism. Study Design: We performed a retrospective analysis of a prospective database of 491 consecutive parathyroidectomies performed between May 2005 and May 2007 at a tertiary referral medical center. Results: Fifty-two (12.6%) patients had a history of head and neck irradiation and 360 (87.4%) had no exposure to radiation. The 2 groups had no significant difference in terms of gender or ethnicity. The radiation group was older, with an average age of 65.1 years versus 58.1 years (p < 0.0009). There was no significant difference in concurrent benign thyroid neoplasm, thyroid cancer, and type of parathyroid disease (single vs multigland) in the 2 groups. There was no significant difference in the operative approach used between the 2 groups (focused vs unilateral or bilateral). Conclusions: Head and neck irradiation should not be a contraindication for minimally invasive parathyroidectomy in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism in the setting of preoperative localization studies showing single-gland disease and no concurrent thyroid neoplasm. Furthermore, history of head and neck irradiation is associated with a later age of presentation for parathyroidectomy.
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