Dr. Pramod K Sharma

Robotic Thyroid Surgery Now Available in Utah

Thyroid cancer must be treated surgically. Unfortunately, a traditional thyroidectomy – the surgical removal of a cancerous thyroid – leaves a long, visible scar on the patient’s neck. While many surgeons are adept at placing the incision along natural necklines, scarring is still a likely and possibly unsightly outcome.

Fortunately for thyroid cancer patients in Utah, a non-scarring alternative is now available. Known as transaxillary robotic thyroid surgery, robot-assisted thyroid surgery or robot-assisted endoscopic thyroid surgery, a physician uses the da Vinci robotic surgical system to perform a thyroidectomy.

In this minimally invasive procedure, an incision is made in the patient’s underarm area, which contains fewer nerve endings and typically heals faster than incisions made in the neck.

The result? No neck scarring and successful removal of all or part of the thyroid.

Dr. Pramod Sharma, an ENT doctor in Salt Lake City who practices at the Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City is the first doctor in Utah to perform this highly specialized surgery. He trained with many of the nation’s leading experts in robot-assisted thyroid surgery and now regularly performs the procedure for Utah thyroid cancer patients.

How the da Vinci Surgical System Works

da Vinci Surgical System

The da Vinci surgical system is one remarkable robot. During surgery, two incisions are made—one under the arm that is typically 5 to 7 centimeters long and a second incision of about 5 millimeters in the chest area. The surgery is performed using four small robotic hands that can precisely grab, twist and turn to aid surgical success. The physician looks through a high-definition camera that provides a three-dimensional view of the thyroid and dramatically improves visibility during surgery. The surgeon then sits at the console and performs the surgery with great precision from a distance.

While the entire process sounds exotic and futuristic, the results are clear: no visible scarring and better visibility for the surgeon. Put it together and you have a system that proves advantageous to patient and doctor alike.

Is Robotic Surgery Right for You?

Your physician can help determine if you are a likely candidate for a robotic thyroidectomy. Generally speaking, the da Vinci surgical system works best for the following patients:
• Not overweight or obese
• Have a smaller thyroid gland (4cm or smaller)
• Exhibit smaller nodules (up to 2cm)
• Present nodules on only a single side of the thyroid

Robotic thyroid surgery is now available in Utah through the expertise of Dr. Pramod Sharma. Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center to learn if this procedure makes sense to treat your condition.

Watch a video explanation of Robotic Thyroid Surgery

girl smelling flowers and sneezing

5 Tips to Avoid Allergies in Utah

Allergy season in Utah is in full bloom. For many Salt Lake City allergy sufferers, the season begins in April and lingers through the fall as grass, molds, trees all work through their natural cycles.

Approximately 20 percent of Americans suffer from allergies. During certain weeks, it can feel like everyone you know in Utah suffers from allergies due to itchy or watery eyes, congestion and non-stop sneezing when symptoms go from bad to worse!

At the Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City, we regularly treat our patients in Salt Lake City, Sandy and Park City for allergies. In some cases, simple over-the-counter medicine is the best option. In other cases, allergy shots and treatment are the best course of action.

Dr. John Bennett of the Ear, Nose and Throat Center recommends that anyone who requires medications for more than a month every or spring and fall, consider allergy testing.

“Allergy tests will show exactly what you are allergic to so you can avoid those allergy triggers in the future, and also whether the allergies are bad enough to justify allergy shots or allergy drops,” adds Dr. Bennett. “The good news is that new allergy drops, known as sublingual immunotherapy, offer the convenience of taking drops at home and eliminate the need to get poked with a shot constantly.”

We don’t want you to suffer any more than you have to. So here are 5 Tips to Avoid Allergies. If these don’t work, please contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City to set up an appointment with one of our trained allergy specialists.

1. Stay inside on windy days or when pollen count is high

We realize this seems awfully simple, but sometimes prevention is the best option. For some allergy sufferers, a day spent inside with the windows closed can mean the difference between a frustrating day of sneezing and a comfortable day where you act and feel like a normal person. Pay attention to pollen counts and when they are particularly high. Also, if it’s windy, realize the pollen is filling the air. Stay inside.

2. Keep a clean home and dust regularly

Every home gets dusty. But if you’re an allergy sufferer, a clean home can mean the difference between good and bad health (or at least comfortable and uncomfortable days). One of the most critical places to minimize dust and pollen is your bedroom. Think about it; you spend six or more hours in that one place every day. When it’s dusty, you’ll suffer. When it’s clean, you’ll rest easily.

A few other items to consider eliminating from your bedroom: carpet, down-filled blankets and pillows, and closets filled with clothes you rarely wear. These items are all dust-magnets and, when dirty, proven to provoke allergies.

Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, John Bennett, offers the following recommendations.

“If you suffer from bad allergies, at least make your bedroom an allergy-free zone,” says Dr. Bennett. “That means no pets, and nothing that gathers dust like books and fluffy decorations. The floors should be hard or at least have very thin carpeting. Frequent dusting and vacuuming is a must. The room should be spartan and simply decorated, almost like a hotel room. In other words, eliminate anything that can capture dust that you can’t easily wash.”

3. Wash bedding and clothing often to eliminate dust mites

No one likes the thought of dust mites sharing their home. But if you don’t wash bedding, curtains and clothing regularly in hot water, you may have dust mite squatters in your home. Eliminate them and you’ve improved your likelihood of staying allergy-free. Welcome them into your home and you’ll feel their presence today, tomorrow and, well, you get the picture.

“Bed linens should all be washable and washed regularly,” says Dr. Bennett. “It’s one of the best ways to ensure a clean, allergy-free space.”

4. Use air conditioning instead of opening windows

This can be a tough choice in Utah when hot summer days become delightful and cool summer nights. It’s great to hear the crickets chirping outside your window and opening windows saves on power costs. But your nose and eyes will thank you if you choose to run your air conditioning instead of opening your windows on particularly windy or pollen-filled nights (see tip #1 again). Use your body as a guide; if you feel like your allergies are coming on, close the windows. If you feel like you’re breathing easily and it’s not windy, you might be fine with your windows open.

5. Wear a face mask when you work in the yard

One common allergy trigger from Draper to Salt Lake City is grass. When grass is seeding, it triggers allergies and few triggers are more powerful than mowing your lawn and dumping the clippings in a garbage can. The grass and dust flies and soon your sneezing.

Your grass won’t stop growing (unless you forget to water it; Salt Lake City is located in a desert, after all). But you can fight allergy triggers by wearing a mask when you mow the lawn. Masks are inexpensive and available at grocery stores or Home Depot. Snap it on your face before you work in the yard and you’re well on your way to avoiding allergies. Swap out your mask often, as well. Because a clean mask today will become a dirty mask tomorrow.

Contact an ENT Doctor for Utah Allergy Treatment

Best of luck managing your allergies. And contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center to explore allergy shots and other treatments if these simple tips don’t do the trick.