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Parathyroid Hormone Determination in Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspirates Allows the Differentiation between Thyroid and Parathyroid Lesions: Our Experience and Review of the Literature

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In many cases, it is difficult or even impossible to distinguish parathyroid lesions from thyroid ones at ultrasound as well as at scintiscan and even at cytology, because they often share common features. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) determination in the aspirates in the differential diagnosis of parathyroid from thyroid lesions in an area of mild iodine deficiency and high prevalence of thyroid nodules. Forty-six consecutive patients were suspected to have one or more nodule(s) of parathyroid origin because of their position in the posterior aspect of thyroid lobes and/or their shape and echo-pattern at ultrasound examination. In 13 cases, there were also laboratory findings suggestive for primary hyperparathyroidism, with clinical evidence in 6 of these patients. A total of 55 lesions suspected to be of parathyroid origin were selected. After obtaining cytological preparations, the needle used to perform the fine-needle aspirate (FNA) was washed using 1 ml of normal saline. Intact PTH determination in the washout was done whereas the evaluation was performed directly in the aspirated fluid in case of cystic lesions. The values of PTH in the aspirates ranged from 6.7 to 16640 pg/ml. Sixteen patients underwent surgical intervention and the histological examination of the 23 operated lesions previously submitted to FNA-PTH showed 11 parathyroid adenomas, 5 hyperplasic parathyroid lesions and 7 benign thyroid nodules. A strong positive correlation between high levels of PTH in the aspirate and the histological findings of parathyroid lesions was found. A value over 245 pg/ml was constantly associated to the parathyroid lesions. Our results confirmed the high accuracy of FNA-PTH determination in differentiating parathyroid lesions from thyroid nodules and this is of special value in an area of mild iodine deficiency with a high prevalence of thyroid nodules.
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Keywords: Fine-needle aspiration (FNA); PTH assay; PTH determination; hyperparathyroidism; parathyroid cyst; parathyroid adenoma; parathyroid carcinoma; parathyroid hyperplasia; thyroid nodule; ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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  • This journal is devoted to timely reviews of experimental and clinical studies in the field of endocrine, metabolic, and immune disorders. Specific emphasis is placed on humoral and cellular targets for natural, synthetic, and genetically engineered drugs that enhance or impair endocrine, metabolic, and immune parameters and functions. Topics related to the neuroendocrine-immune axis are given special emphasis in view of the growing interest in stress-related, inflammatory, autoimmune, and degenerative disorders.
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