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
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.