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In situ preservation of the inferior parathyroid gland during central neck dissection for papillary thyroid carcinoma. BJS 2017; 104: 1514-1522.

Published: 7th August 2017

Authors: J. B. Wang, K. Wu, L. H. Shi, Y. Y. Sun, F. B. Li, L. Xie et al.


Postoperative hypocalcaemia due to dysfunction of the parathyroid glands is the most common complication after total thyroidectomy plus central neck dissection (CND). There is a lack of surgical techniques described to help preserve the inferior parathyroid gland in situ during CND. The objective of this study was to introduce the ‘TBP layer’ (layer of thymus–blood vessel–inferior parathyroid gland) concept for preserving the inferior parathyroid gland in situ during CND, and to evaluate its effectiveness.


The study group included patients with primary papillary thyroid cancer who underwent total thyroidectomy with CND using the new surgical concept between January and December 2014. The control group included sex‐ and age‐matched patients who underwent conventional total thyroidectomy with CND between January 2012 and December 2013. The proportion of inferior parathyroid glands preserved in situ and postoperative hypoparathyroidism rates in the two groups were compared.


There were 181 patients in the study group and 306 in the control group. There were no significant differences between the groups in tumour size, multifocality, extrathyroidal extension, and number of harvested and metastatic central lymph nodes. The rate of inferior parathyroid gland preservation in situ was significantly improved from 37·9 to 76·3 per cent on the left side (P < 0·001), and from 52·0 to 77·9 per cent on the right side (P < 0·001), in the study group compared with the control group. The incidence of transient hypoparathyroidism decreased significantly from 35·0 to 7·2 per cent (P < 0·001).


Applying the proposed surgical concept improved the rate of inferior parathyroid gland preservation in situ and decreased the incidence of transient postoperative hypoparathyroidism.

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