Background: The introduction of limited explorations (LE) for parathyroidectomy broadened the management possibilities for hyperparathyroidism. We sought to document this evolution of change in parathyroid surgery. Study Design: Members of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons were sent a 49-question survey, and 256 surgeons, accounting for 46% of parathyroid operations nationwide, responded. Associations derived from questionnaire data were tested for significance using chi-square and Kruskal-Wallis methods. Results: Currently, 10% of surgeons practice bilateral neck exploration, 68% practice LE, and 22% have a mixed practice. Five years ago, these percentages were, respectively, 26%, 43%, and 31%; and 10 years ago they were 74%, 11%, and 15%. Shift to LE was greatest among endocrine surgeons, high-volume surgeons, and surgeons trained by mentors who practiced LE. A focal, single-gland examination under general anesthesia and 23-hour observation are preferred by most surgeons. Half of all general surgeons, in contrast to fewer than 10% of endocrine surgeons, never monitor parathyroid hormone intraoperatively, even with LE. Dramatic differences were apparent among subsets of surgeons in operative volumes, indications for bilateral neck exploration, followup care, expertise with ultrasound and sestamibi, and perceptions of cure and complication rates. Evidence-based literature and guidance from surgical societies had the greatest influence on the decision to practice LE. Conclusions: This survey formally documents the evolution of practice patterns in parathyroid surgery over the last decade. Although LE has achieved wide acceptance, surgical management of hyperparathyroidism has become increasingly disparate. This trend may highlight a need to define best-practice guidelines.
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