Comparison between 99mTc-tetrofosmin/pertechnetate subtraction scintigraphy and 99mTc-tetrofosmin SPECT for preoperative localization of parathyroid adenoma in an endemic goiter area

H J Gallowitsch, P Mikosch, E Kresnik, O Unterweger, P Lind
Investigative Radiology 2000, 35 (8): 453-9

RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: Technetium-99m-((99m)Tc-) tetrofosmin, a cationic, lipophilic complex like (99m)Tc-sestamibi, has proved to be a potential tracer for parathyroid scintigraphy despite some differences in washout behavior from the thyroid gland. Previous results comparing a double-phase technique with single-proton emission computed tomography (SPECT) or with subtraction techniques demonstrated a high detection rate, especially when SPECT and subtraction techniques were used, whereas the double-phase protocol revealed only moderate results. In this study, a direct comparison was made between (99m)Tc-tetrofosmin/pertechnetate subtraction and SPECT to elucidate the optimal protocol for tetrofosmin parathyroid imaging.

METHODS: Twenty-three patients who were biochemically suspected of parathyroid adenoma or hyperplasia due to primary or tertiary hyperparathyroidism were included in our study. In all patients, serum calcium, phosphate, and intact parathormone levels were analyzed in a single blood sample before (99m)Tc-tetrofosmin/pertechnetate subtraction scintigraphy and SPECT. Ultrasound of the neck was performed in all patients to exclude false-positive results due to thyroid adenomas. All patients underwent parathyroidectomy with intraoperative revision of all parathyroid glands, and the histological results were compared with preoperative findings.

RESULTS: Both imaging modalities, ie, subtraction scintigraphy and SPECT, correctly identified 20 of 23 (87%) histologically confirmed adenomas preoperatively. The positive predictive value was calculated to be 95% and 100%, respectively, for these two methods. Subtraction scintigraphy and SPECT showed concordant results in 19 patients (18 positive, 1 false-negative) and discordant results in 4 patients (2 positive with subtraction, 2 with SPECT). The combined use of subtraction scintigraphy and SPECT techniques revealed a sensitivity of 95.7% (22/23) and a positive predictive value of 95%. The whole procedure can be performed in less than 90 minutes per patient. Whereas subtraction scintigraphy tended to show more false-positive retentions due to thyroid adenomas, the interpretation of SPECT may be difficult in small adenomas with missing thyroid/parathyroid differential washout.

CONCLUSIONS: Both imaging modalities, subtraction scintigraphy with pertechnetate and SPECT, are highly sensitive methods for parathyroid adenoma localization with (99m)Tc-tetrofosmin. However, our study did demonstrate that a combination of both modalities can further improve the diagnostic accuracy. Especially in an endemic goiter area, additional ultrasound may be required to avoid false-positive results due to thyroid adenomas.

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