10s of 1000s of people – our friends, family, and loved ones- with thyroid cancer in the United States have their parathyroid glands accidently removed or injured during their thyroid surgery. This surgical error often causes patients to suffer from hypocalcemia complications after their surgery. This means that they may have to stay longer at the hospital, take supplements everyday for the rest of their life, and have a shorter life span.
We talked to head and neck surgeons who expressed that they had difficulty visualizing the parathyroid glands (PGs) during their surgeries because of the PGs small size and similar appearance to surrounding tissues, such as lymph nodes, fat, and thyroid tissue. Another pain point was their inability to accurately assess the vascularization and perfusion of the PGs – a crucial step in preserving the glands during the surgery.
After our stakeholder interviews, we asked ourselves: how can we prevent postoperative hypocalcemia and hypoparathyroidism? What’s being done today? We learned that intraoperative identification and blood perfusion assessment of PGs are implemented as standard practice in thyroidectomies. Frozen section biopsy, a 30-50 minute procedure that allows a pathological examination of fresh samples, is not reliable as it could lead to the devascularization and destruction of functional PGs. Surgeons can also inject a dye, such as indocyanine green (ICG), to perform imaging, but this method is temporally limited and interferes with the surgical workflow.
Recently attending the 4th Symposium on Parathyroid Fluorescence only confirmed and stimulated us to solve this clinical need. From the post-conference survey results, many clinicians from around the world voiced their concerns that there is no affordable, suitable device on the market that can effectively meet these needs, which further validated the clinical and commercial opportunity of our venture. Optosurgical is here to help patients come out stronger and healthier from their thyroid surgery.