Using a novel robot-assisted endoscopic surgery technique, a team of surgeons at Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea has successfully treated 200 consecutive thyroid cancer patients.
The minimally invasive operation offers several technical and cosmetic benefits that traditional open surgery does not offer, and is detailed in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
In the United States, more than 37,000 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Thyroid cancer occurs in the cells of the thyroid — a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam's apple. Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. Typically, thyroid cancer requires removal of all or part of the thyroid gland through a three-to-five-inch incision across the front of the neck.
“This innovative robotic-assisted technique for thyroid surgery represents an exciting new treatment option,” said Woong Youn Chung, MD, PHD at Yonsel University College of Medicine. “It not only offers good clinical outcomes, but it eliminates the large, visible scarring that results from traditional open surgery.”
For this 10-month study, 200 patients, age 40-49 with well-differentiated, local thyroid tumors of at least two centimeters, underwent robotic-assisted thyroid surgery. The surgical team removed all or part of the thyroid gland by making an incision under the patients’ right arm, eliminating the need for the traditional neck scar.
Of the 45 patients who underwent total thyroid gland removal, 38 also received Radioactive Iodine (RAI) therapy four to six weeks after surgery. No tumor recurrence was observed by neck ultrasonography at 10 and 18 months postoperatively, and no patient was found to have abnormal radiation uptake.