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D Rubello, A Piotto, D Casara, PC Muzzio, B Shapiro and MR Pelizzo

OBJECTIVE: In the last decade, surgery of primary hyperparathyroidism (HPT) due to a solitary adenoma has moved on from the traditional wide bilateral neck exploration (BNE) to more limited approaches such as unilateral neck exploration and minimally invasive parathyroidectomy. DESIGN: To define the role of intraoperative gamma probe and injection of a low (99m)Tc-MIBI dose in performing minimally invasive radio-guided surgery (MIRS) in HPT patients with a solitary parathyroid adenoma. METHODS: From September 1999 to July 2002, 214 patients with primary HPT entered the study. All patients were preoperatively investigated by a (99m)Tc-pertechnetate/MIBI subtraction scan and high-resolution neck ultrasound. The intraoperative technique we developed differs from other previously described techniques being based on the injection of a low (37 MBq) MIBI dose in the operating theatre a few minutes before the beginning of intervention. RESULTS: On the basis of scan/ultrasound findings 147 patients were selected for a MIRS and 144 of them (98%) were successfully treated by this approach: a solitary parathyroid adenoma was removed through a small 2-2.5 cm skin incision with a mean operative time of 35 min, and a mean hospital stay of 1.2 days. In the other 67 patients with scan/ultrasound evidence of concomitant nodular goiter (n=45) or multi-gland disease (n=13) or with a negative scan (n=9), the gamma probe was utilized during a traditional BNE. A low 37 MBq MIBI dose proved to be sufficient to perform a MIRS; moreover it delivered to the patient and surgeon a low, negligible, radiation exposure dose. CONCLUSIONS: The combination of a (99m)Tc-pertechnetate/MIBI subtraction scan and neck ultrasound appears to be an accurate imaging protocol in selecting primary HPT patients as candidates for a MIRS. A MIBI dose as low as 37 MBq injected in the operating theatre just before the start of surgery appears to be adequate to perform radio-guided surgery.

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D Rubello, C Bui, D Casara, MD Gross, LM Fig and B Shapiro

Over the last 30 years nuclear medicine imaging of the adrenal gland and its lesions has been achieved by the exploitation of a number of physiological characteristics of this organ. By seeking and utilising features which are quantitatively or qualitatively different from those of the adjacent tissues, functional depiction of the adrenal gland and its diseases, which in most cases retain the basic physiology of their tissue of origin, including both the cortex and the medulla, are now a useful clinical reality. Agents widely used in clinical practice include: (a) uptake and storage of radiolabelled cholesterol analogues via the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor and cholesterol ester storage pool in the adrenal cortex ((131)I-6-beta-iodomethyl-norcholesterol, (75)Se-selenomethyl-norcholesterol); (b) catecholamine type I, presynaptic, uptake mechanism and intracellular granule uptake and storage mechanism in the adrenal medulla and extra-adrenal paraganglia ((131)I-, (123)I- and (124)I-meta-iodo-benzyl-guanidine (MIBG), (18)F-metafluoro-benzyl-guanidine); (c) cell surface receptor binding of peptides/neurotransmitters/modulators such as for the family of five subtypes of somatostatin receptors ((123)I-tyr-octreotide, (111)In-DTPA-octreotide, (111)In-DOTA-octreotide and many others); (d) although not specific for the adrenal gland, increased glycolysis by tumours, particularly the most malignant varieties, (18)F-2-fluoro-d-deoxyglucose can thus be expected to depict certain malignant lesions such as malignant pheochromocytomas (particularly the minority which are not detected by MIBG) and adrenal incidentalomas (particularly when they occur in patients with known extra-adrenal malignancies). There are a variety of adrenal tissue characteristics with potential for exploitation but which are not currently in clinical use, and which may, nevertheless, have potential as imaging agents. These include: (a) inhibitors of adrenal cortical steroid hormone synthesis enzymes (e.g. radiolabelled analogues of metyrapone); (b) radiolabelled lipoproteins which bind to adrenocortical LDL receptors; (c) inhibitors of catecholamine biosynthesis enzymes (e.g. radiolabelled analogues of tyrosine and related amino acids); (d) cell surface receptors for various peptides and hormones which may be over-expressed on adrenal cortical or adrenal medullary tumours (e.g. radiolabelled analogues of ACTH on adrenocortical cells of zona fasciculata or zona glomerulosa origin, neurotransmitter/hormone message peptides binding to cell surface receptors such as bombesin, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, cholecystokinin and opiate peptides); (e) the adrenal cortex can also synthesise cholesterol ab initio from acetate, and preliminary studies with (11)C-acetate positron emission tomography have shown interesting results.