Surgery plays a crucial role in the management and potential cure for Thyroid Cancer and many other thyroid swellings. Mainly there are three compelling reasons to adopt innovative surgical techniques and adaptation of new technology in performing these procedures. They are
- Thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer typically affect the younger population
- Compared to other cancers most of these people have better cure rates and survival and lead longer and potentially normal life
- Surgery leaves a scar at a cosmetically sensitive area like the neck
Open surgery led to endoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive technique that uses a small camera and special instruments. Despite its advantages, it is still cumbersome and involves a small incision over the neck.
Surgeons strive hard to address these issues and due to this continuous endeavor, a new treatment option is available which can provide a better quality of life in these patients – ROBOTIC THYROIDECTOMY. It is considered a huge step forward in thyroid surgery.
No, this doesn’t mean that the robot does the surgery. Like in any other surgical method robot is a capable tool in the hands of a well-trained surgeon to achieve higher levels of precision.
And yes, it means that the neck scar can be avoided. It is achieved by accessing the thyroid through a “hidden incision” under the arm (trans-axillary approach) or behind the ear(retro-auricular approach).
Additional to this cosmetic benefit, other advantages of the approach are the better view and better identification of critical structures and increased dexterity, thanks to the 3d view and magnification provided by these robotic systems even when compared to endoscopic surgery.
On the flip side, it may not be feasible in patients with very large thyroids or with advanced disease and the cost of this procedure is marginally higher compared to that of open surgery.
Right now, patients with a smaller thyroid gland and those with nodules confined to one side of the thyroid gland benefit most from robotic thyroidectomies. Those who need a thyroidectomy can talk to their doctor about the feasibility of this option and discuss its risks and benefits.
Dr. UmaSankar Tantravahi,
Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Visakhapatnam