Background. Autotransplantation of diseased parathyroid glands into subcutaneous adipose tissue has been mentioned previously, but as far as we know there is no previous systemic study concerning parathyroid function after subcutaneous autotransplantation. Methods. From January 1993 to June 1996, total parathyroidectomy and autotransplantation were carried out in 46 patients with renal hyperparathyroidism. The symptoms and signs before operation were intractable pruritus in 29 patients (63%), bone pain in 27 patients (58.7%), general weakness in 17 patients (37%), soft tissue calcification in 15 patients (32.6%), bone fracture in one patient, and failure to thrive in one patient. Twenty-four patients (group A) underwent autotransplantation of 60 mg of a diffuse hyperplastic parathyroid gland into subcutaneous forearm tissue, and 22 patients (group B) underwent autotransplantation of 15 pieces (60 mg) of 1 mm3 tissue into forearm muscles, as mentioned previously. Four patients in group A and one in group B who had high levels of intact parathyroid hormone (I-PTH) immediately after operation were excluded. After the operation, calcium carbonate, 1.5 to 16 gm daily, and calcitriol, 0.25 to 1.5 μg/daily, were prescribed according to the patients' calcium levels. Results. After 6 months, all patients in both groups were given calcium carbonate, 1 gm/day, and calcitriol, 0.25 μg/day, for parathyroid suppression, and none had to take more medicine to maintain calcium levels. There were no significant differences between the two groups regarding serum calcium, phosphorous, alkaline phosphatase, and I-PTH levels 1 week, 3 to 6 months, and 1 year after operation. Eighteen patients in group A and 19 patients in group B had normal levels of I-PTH 1 year after operation. In the follow-up period from 1 to 3 1/2 years, only one patient in group A had a subnormal I-PTH level and one in group B had graft-dependent hyperparathyroidism. Conclusions. We therefore suggest that autotransplantation of a parathyroid gland into forearm subcutaneous tissue for renal hyperparathyroidism is as effective as autotransplantation into forearm muscles and can be done easier.
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