February 16, 2024

Vanderbilt to host international conference on endocrine surgery, March 14-16

Advancements in the surgical treatment of endocrine disorders, including thyroid disease, will be on display March 14-16 during the Sixth Parathyroid Fluorescence Symposium hosted by the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering.

The symposium, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the International Society for Innovative Technologies in Endocrine Surgery (ISITES), will feature presentations by researchers from around the world, and live streamed, real-time demonstrations of cutting-edge fluorescence technologies during endocrine surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Thyroidectomy, the complete or partial removal of a cancerous or overactive thyroid gland, is complicated by the difficulty in distinguishing the parathyroid glands from surrounding thyroid tissue so they are not damaged and their critical function–regulating calcium levels in the blood and bones—disrupted.

Around 2008, Vanderbilt researchers led by Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, PhD, the Orrin H. Ingram Chair in Biomedical Engineering (and ISITES conference chair), discovered that parathyroid glands emit bright autofluorescence under near-infrared light, compared to surrounding tissue.

Following the demonstration of this approach in a clinical study in adults, the field of NIRAF (near-infrared autofluorescence) detection using various devices during surgery “exploded.” One device, a handheld probe called PTeye, was developed at Vanderbilt, and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018.

In 2023, researchers from VUMC and Vanderbilt reported that the probe accurately detected parathyroid tissue during endocrine surgery in children nearly 96% of the time. NIRAF cannot, however, distinguish diseased from normal parathyroid tissue.

Next month’s symposium will feature talks and panel discussions by several researchers from Vanderbilt University and VUMC who continue to evaluate NIRAF in endocrine surgery.

They include Mahadevan-Jansen; Ryan Belcher, MD, MPH (Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery); Colleen Kiernan, MD, MPH (Surgery); and Carmen Solórzano, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery, John L. Sawyers Professor of Surgical Sciences, and director of the Vanderbilt Endocrine Surgery Center.

Also speaking: Lisa White, MD, a Murfreesboro general surgeon who, as a resident physician in General Surgery at VUMC a decade ago, contributed to the development of NIRAF and PTeye.

For more information and to register for the symposium, visit the ISITES website at https://isitesurgery.org.