BACKGROUND: Postoperative hypoparathyroidism is the most common complication after total thyroidectomy. Over the past years, optical imaging techniques, such as parathyroid autofluorescence, indocyanine green (ICG) angiography, and laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) have been employed to save parathyroid glands during thyroid surgery. This study provides an overview of the utilized methods of the optical imaging techniques during total thyroidectomy for parathyroid gland identification and preservation.
METHODS: PUBMED, EMBASE and Web of Science were searched for studies written in the English language utilizing parathyroid autofluorescence, ICG-angiography, or LSCI during total thyroidectomy to support parathyroid gland identification or preservation. Case reports, reviews, meta-analyses, animal studies, and post-mortem studies were excluded after the title and abstract screening. The data of the studies were analyzed qualitatively, with a focus on the methodologies employed.
RESULTS: In total, 59 articles were included with a total of 6190 patients. Overall, 38 studies reported using parathyroid autofluorescence, 24 using ICG-angiography, and 2 using LSCI. The heterogeneity between the utilized methodology in the studies was large, and in particular, regarding study protocols, imaging techniques, and the standardization of the imaging protocol.
CONCLUSION: The diverse application of optical imaging techniques and a lack of standardization and quantification leads to heterogeneous conclusions regarding their clinical value. Worldwide consensus on imaging protocols is needed to establish the clinical utility of these techniques for parathyroid gland identification and preservation.