Heterotopic autotransplantation of parathyroid tissue in children undergoing total thyroidectomy

Michael A. Skinner, Jeffrey A. Norton, Jeffrey F. Moley, Mary K. DeBenedetti, Samuel A. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Aim: The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of parathyroid autotransplantation in children undergoing total thyroidectomy. Methods: We have prospectively evaluated 32 cases of total thyroidectomy in children. The ages ranged from 1 year to 15.7 years, and the mean was 8.9 years. In 31 cases, the indication for surgery was a diagnosis of MEN2A or 2B based on direct DNA testing. One child had suspected sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma. All of the patients underwent heterotopic autotransplantation of parathyroid gland tissue. In 26 cases, the parathyroid tissue was placed in the nondominant forearm, while in 6 children it was autotransplanted into the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Results: In 31 of 32 children (97%), the serum calcium level transiently decreased in the immediate postoperative period. All of the patients were placed on oral calcium carbonate and vitamin D supplementation, and the serum calcium levels became normal within several days. The supplemental medications were then weaned as tolerated. Within 3 months of their procedure, 30 patients (94%) had adequate parathyroid tissue engraftment, and the calcium and vitamin D medications were discontinued. One child required 9 months of calcium and vitamin O medications before she could be weaned from the medications. One child has been treated more recently, end is currently being weaned from supplemental calcium and vitamin D. Serum PTH levels in 22 patients who had placement of the tissue into their forearms were measured, and in each there was increased PTH in the grafted arm compared with the nongrafted arm. In five children who had parathyroid tissue grafted into the sternocleidomastoid muscle, the peripheral serum PTH levels were in the normal range. Conclusion: The heterotopic autotransplantation of resected parathyroid tissue is safe and effective in preventing permanent hypoparathyroidism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-513
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997


  • Parathyroid gland
  • autotransplantation
  • thyroid cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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