Can Robotic Surgery be Used for Thyroid Cancer?Robotic scarless thyroid surgery techniques are safe and effective as a cancer operation for almost all patients with thyroid cancer. When compared to the traditional open surgery where a large incision is placed in the front of the neck, robotic thyroid surgery can remove the thyroid cancer in the same fasion and leave no scar in the neck at all.
Robotic Thyroid Cancer Surgery is all About Better Tools and TechnologyThyroid cancer surgery is about having the right diagnosis, the right tools, and most importantly, the right surgeon. Robotic surgery is becoming widely used in many types of cancer treatment as minimally invasive surgeries have become a standard of care. Since the introduction of robotic technology, most endoscopic surgeries have transitioned to robotic technique given its much better visualization of the tissues and the cancer, better tools (robotic instruments), and better control of the instruments. Currently well over five thousand cases of robotic thyroid cancer operations have been performed with an excellent outcome and the indications for robotic cancer surgery have steadily expended (link publications).
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Robotic Thyroid Cancer Surgery: Remove Cancer, Preserve Normal TissuesClean resection of the cancer tissue while preserving the normal tissue is the key principle in cancer surgery. Simply said, cancer surgery is about cutting out the bad and preserving the good. Clean resection, precise sharp dissection, gentle handling of the tissue, preserving the capsule or the outer lining of the cancer are all important aspects of cancer surgery. These goals are often EASIER to accomplish during robotic thyroid surgery than they are with traditional thyroid surgery. The operating robot allows 4 to 10 times magnification of the dissecting tissues which helps make sure the best cancer operation is performed.
Cancer surgery is also about being prepared for any unexpected findings during the surgery that may change the course of the surgery. In thyroid surgery, a planned partial thyroid surgery may not be adequate when these unexpected findings are present during your surgery. If there is a suspicion for thyroid cancer invasion to the surrounding tissue (e.g. muscle invasion), extension beyond the thyroid capsule, or spread to adjacent lymph nodes. In these cases, your entire thyroid gland should be removed along with involved lymph nodes or even the surrounding muscle. Therefore, proper diagnosis, indications for surgery, surgical technique, instruments, and surgeon’s experiences are crucial in achieving the best outcomes with chance of cure, low risk of recurrence, and minimal risk of complications.
Chosing Robotic Thyroid Surgery for YOUR Thyroid CancerIn choosing robotic thyroid surgery for thyroid cancer, your indications and the expected amount of the thyroid to be removed (just one side vs. both sides--a "total" thyroidectomy) will be reviewed and discussed with the expert surgeon. Based on the findings of your scans (like the ultrasound), FNA needle biopsy, and genetic testing (if performed) will be reviewed and the best options for YOUR thyroid cancer will be discussed.
Once the details of the surgery have been fully discussed. Your best option for scarless surgery will be discussed. Currently, the bilateral axillo-breast approach (BABA) robotic thyroid technique is most suitable for total thyroid or complete thyroid resection with an excellent exposure to both left and right side of the thyroid gland as well as lymph nodes in the neck which may be involved due to cancer spread. Therefore, if needed, the robotic technique can remove the adjacent lymph nodes with a great precision.