Validation of 1-hour post-thyroidectomy parathyroid hormone level in predicting hypocalcemia

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Le, Trung N
Kerr, Paul D
Sutherland, Donna E
Lambert, Pascal
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Abstract Background Prior work by our group suggested that a single one hour post-thyroidectomy parathyroid hormone (1 hr PTH) level could accurately stratify patients into high and low risk groups for the development of hypocalcemia. This study looks to validate the safety and efficacy of a protocol based on a 1 hr PTH threshold of 12 pg/ml. Study design Retrospective analysis of consecutive cohort treated with standardized protocol. Methods One hundred and twenty five consecutive patients underwent total or completion thyroidectomy and their PTH level was drawn 1-hour post operatively. Based on our previous work, patients were stratified into either a low risk group (PTH < 12 pg/ml) or a high risk group (PTH ≥ 12 pg/ml). Patients in the high risk group were immediately started on prophylactic calcium carbonate (5–10 g/d) and calcitriol (0.5-1.0 mcg/d). The outcomes were then reviewed focusing mainly on how many low risk patients developed hypocalcemia (false negative rate), and how many high risk patients failed prophylactic therapy. Results Thirty one patients (25%) were stratified as high risk, and 94 (75%) as low risk. Five (16%) of the high risk patients became hypocalcemic despite prophylactic therapy. Two of the low risk group became hypocalcemic, (negative predictive value = 98%). None of the hypocalcemic patients had anything more than mild symptoms. Conclusions A single 1-hour post-thyroidectomy PTH level is a very useful way to stratify thyroidectomy patients into high and low risk groups for development of hypocalcemia. Early implementation of oral prophylactic calcium and vitamin D in the high risk patients is a very effective way to prevent serious hypocalcemia. Complex protocols requiring multiple calcium and PTH measurements are not required to guide post-thyroidectomy management.
Journal of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery. 2014 Jan 29;43(1):5