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April 1976

Transcervical Thymectomy: An Integral Part of Neck Exploration for Hyperparathyroidism

Author Affiliations

From the departments of surgery (Drs Freeman and Mason) and internal medicine (Division of Endocrinology [Dr Sherman]), University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City.

Arch Surg. 1976;111(4):359-364. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1976.01360220055009

• Thirty-two neck explorations for hyperparathyroidism were done in 18 months. The indication for transcervical thymectomy was a failure to locate either inferior gland. Six of eight patients had adenomatous or hyperplastic glands located within or adjacent to the thymus. One infrathymic lesion was a parathyroid carcinoma and the other was a functioning parathyroid cyst. The abnormal parathyroid gland was not visible in any of these six patients until the thymus had been removed. Had this step been omitted, a sternotomy would probably have been required. Two patients had bilateral normal parathyroid glands within or deep to the thymus. Unless some normal parathyroid tissue has been identified and preserved, the indiscriminate use of transcervical thymectomy could result in the inadvertent excision of both inferior glands and possible iatrogenic hypoparathyroidism.

(Arch Surg 111:359-364, 1976)

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