Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust is delighted to be supporting this exciting research project: Near Infrared Autofluorescence of the Parathyroid Glands: A Novel Method for Reducing the Incidence of Permanent Hypoparathyroidism Following Total Thyroidectomy for Thyroid Cancer.

March 7th, 2017

Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust is delighted to be supporting this exciting research project: Near Infrared Autofluorescence of the Parathyroid Glands:
A Novel Method for Reducing the Incidence of Permanent Hypoparathyroidism Following Total Thyroidectomy for Thyroid Cancer.
Aimee N. di Marco, Neil S. Tolley, F. Fausto Palazzo
A low level of calcium in the blood (‘hypocalcaemia’) affects up to a quarter of patients following surgery for thyroid cancer. It results when the blood supply to the very tiny parathyroid glands (attached to the thyroid) is affected during surgery. If the parathyroid function does not recover it may require lifelong treatment with calcium and vitamin D. This ‘hypoparathyroidism’ may significantly affect patients’ quality of life due to the need for medication, monitoring and in the long term it may potentially cause problems with kidney function, neurological complications and infections.
The aim of this project is to see if it is possible to exploit a natural property of parathyroid tissue, ‘autofluorescence’, to prevent hypoparathyroidism. Until now, surgeons have had to rely entirely on their experience in the identification of the parathyroid glands and their judgment as to whether their blood supply is sufficient to function normally. In this study, Mr. Palazzo, Professor Tolley and team will be using the ‘Fluobeam 800’ (a near-infrared camera which detects autofluorescence) to check for unrecognized parathyroids on the thyroid gland during surgery and see whether this allows more parathyroid glands to be preserved in situ or, if they do not have a good enough blood supply, allow them to be transplanted into the neck muscle (‘autotransplantation’).
The team is very grateful to the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust for the support which is enabling them to carry out this study: they hope that this work will provide a valuable insight into the effectiveness of this exciting new technology and translate into direct benefit to patients undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer.

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