Prevalence of the polar vessel sign in parathyroid adenomas on the arterial phase of 4D CT

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Bahl M, Muzaffar M, Vij G, et al.

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2014;35:578-581.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The “polar vessel” sign has been previously described on sonography of parathyroid adenomas. We estimated the 4D CT prevalence of the polar vessel sign and determined features of parathyroid adenomas that are associated with this sign. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-eight consecutive patients with parathyroid adenomas underwent 4D CT between 2008 and 2012 at 2 institutions. 4D CT images were reviewed for the presence of the polar vessel sign and a second vascular finding of an enlarged ipsilateral inferior thyroid artery. The polar vessel sign was correlated with adenoma weight and size and arterial phase CT attenuation. RESULTS: Thirty-two parathyroid adenomas in 28 patients were studied, with a mean adenoma weight of 0.66 +/- 0.65 g, a mean maximal CT diameter of 11.1 +/- 4.9 mm, and a mean arterial attenuation of 148 +/- 47 HU. The polar vessel sign was seen in 20/32 (63%) adenomas. Adenomas with a polar vessel had higher arterial phase attenuation than adenomas without a polar vessel (163 and 122 HU, respectively, P < .01). Size and weight were not significantly different for adenomas with and without polar vessels. An enlarged inferior thyroid artery was seen in only 2/28 (7%) patients with unilateral disease. CONCLUSIONS: The polar vessel sign was present in nearly two-thirds of parathyroid adenomas on 4D CT and was more likely to be present in adenomas that had greater arterial phase enhancement. This sign can be used along with enhancement characteristics to increase the radiologist’s confidence that a visualized lesion is a parathyroid adenoma rather than a thyroid nodule or lymph node.