👉The parathyroid glands arise from the 3rd (inferior) and 4th (superior) pharyngeal pouches and follow distinct paths as they descend into their normal locations. A thorough knowledge of the anatomy and embryology of the parathyroid glands is crucial to the parathyroid surgeon and will guide the search for ectopic glands when aberrant anatomy is encountered.
👉For example, when a missing inferior gland is noted, the thymus is a common ectopic location that should be investigated, as this structure also arises from the 3rd pouch. In addition to the thymus, ectopic parathyroids may be found high in the neck (undescended), in the chest, embedded in the thyroid gland or in the sheath surrounding the carotid artery and jugular vein.
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