Background and Objectives: Surgical treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) has evolved from bilateral exploration through a long transcervical incision to focused parathyroidectomy with a minimal incision above the pathologic gland. Recently, endoscopic or robot-assisted parathyroid surgery without direct neck incision has been introduced. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of indocyanine green (ICG) fluorescence as a new method for the visual identification of abnormal hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands in robot-assisted parathyroidectomy using Firefly technology. We also aimed to conduct a comparative analysis between robot-assisted parathyroidectomy and conventional focused parathyroidectomy in order to identify clinical differences between the two surgical approaches.

Materials and Methods: A total of 37 patients with PHPT underwent parathyroidectomy at a single university hospital between September 2018 and December 2022. Thirty-one patients underwent open focused parathyroidectomy (open group), and six patients underwent robot-assisted parathyroidectomy (robot group). Pre-operative localization via parathyroid SPECT-CT and an intraoperative parathyroid hormone (IOPTH) assay were used to successfully remove the pathologic parathyroid in both groups. ICG was administered only in the robot group. Results: Pathologic parathyroid showed a persistent fluorescence pattern under near-infrared vision. After the removal of the fluorescent parathyroid gland, IOPTH was normalized in all six patients in the robot group. However, the open group showed shorter hospital stays (1.8 ± 1.2 vs. 3.0 ± 0.0 days, p < 0.001) and shorter operation times (91.1 ± 69.1 vs. 152.5 ± 23.6 min, p = 0.001) than the robot group. After 6 months of surgery, PTH, calcium, and ionized calcium levels were all normalized without significant differences between the groups.

Conclusions: Robot-assisted parathyroidectomy using ICG is helpful for the visual identification of the pathologic parathyroid gland. The advantage of robot parathyroidectomy is a better cosmetic outcome. However, it still does not show better clinical outcomes than conventional open focused parathyroidectomy.

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