Intraoperative Mapping of Parathyroid Glands using Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Mark Marsden, Shamira Sridharan Weaver, Laura Marcu, Michael Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Hypoparathyroidism is a common complication following thyroidectomy. There is a need for technology to aid surgeons in identifying the parathyroid glands. In contrast to near infrared technologies, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIm) is not affected by ambient light and may be valuable in identifying parathyroid tissue, but has never been evaluated in this capacity. Methods: We used FLIm to measure the UV induced (355 nm) time-resolved autofluorescence signatures (average lifetimes in 3 spectral emission channels) of thyroid, parathyroid, lymphoid and adipose tissue in 21 patients undergoing thyroid and parathyroid surgery. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to assess the ability of FLIm to discriminate normocellular parathyroid from each of the other tissues. Various machine learning classifiers (random forests, neural network, support vector machine) were then evaluated to recognize parathyroid through a leave-one-out cross-validation. Results: Statistically significant differences in average lifetime were observed between parathyroid and each of the other tissue types in spectral channels 2 and 3 respectively. The largest change was observed between adipose tissue and parathyroid (P < 0.001), while less pronounced but still significant changes were observed when comparing parathyroid with lymphoid tissue (P < 0.05) and thyroid (P < 0.01). A random forest classifier trained on average lifetimes was found to detect parathyroid tissue with 100% sensitivity and 93% specificity at the acquisition run level. Conclusion: We found that FLIm derived parameters can distinguish the parathyroid glands and other adjacent tissue types and has promise in scanning the surgical field to identify parathyroid tissue in real-time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Fluorescence lifetime imaging
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Parathyroid identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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