Preoperative localization of occult medullary carcinoma of the thyroid gland with single-photon emission tomography dimercaptosuccinic acid

Robert Udelsman, Douglas Ball, Stephen B. Baylin, Ching Y. Wong, Floyd A. Osterman, Samuel Sostre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background. Patients who undergo thyroidectomy for medullary carcinoma of the thyroid gland (MTC) often have elevations of postoperative serum calcitonin levels, which are indicative of metastatic or residual disease. It has been extremely difficult to localize tumor in these patients with standard diagnostic studies such as ultrasonography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging scans. Previous studies have suggested that planar technetium 99m (V) dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scintigraphic scans can localize MTC in these patients. We have recently increased the sensitivity of planar scintigraphic images by using single-photon emission tomography (SPECT). This study was performed to compare the sensitivity of planar DMSA scans with that of SPECT DMSA scans. Methods.Two normal volunteers and three patients with occult MTC after previous total thyroidectomy underwent planar and SPECT DMSA scans. Each patient subsequently underwent surgical exploration based on the DMSA scans. Results. Physiologic DMSA uptake was noted in the nasopharynx, axial skeleton, breast, liver, spleen, heart, kidneys, urinary bladder, great vessels, and skeletal muscles in both normal volunteers and patients with occult MTC. Planar DMSA scans and dynamic computed tomography scans failed to localize MTC in any of these patients who had minimal disease. SPECT DMSA scans correctly localized cervical MTC in two of three patients, as proved by subsequent surgical resection. One patient who had a negative cervical exploration is presumed to have had a false-positive SPECT DMSA scan. Conclusions. SPECT DMSA scans appear to be a sensitive, safe, and noninvasive localization technique for patients with occult MTC who have undergone previous thyroidectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1089
Number of pages7
JournalSurgery
Volume114
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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