New type of surgery may benefit thyroid cancer patients

Doctors at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are performing a new type of surgery that can remove thyroid cancer tumors without visible scarring, and without affecting speech or the ability to eat. An incisionless robotic surgical procedure called TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) allows patients to return to their normal lives in only a few days without significant pain or disfigurement.

"Surgeons operate with greater precision and control using the TORS approach, minimizing the pain and reducing the risk of possible nerve and tissue damage associated with large incisions," said Tamer A. Ghanem, director of Head and Neck Oncology and Reconstructive Surgery Division at Henry Ford Hospital.

With TORS, surgeons can access tumors through the mouth using the operating arms of the robot, thus not requiring an open skin incision. Some of the other benefits include minimized blood loss, lower risk of a tracheotomy, reduced need for chemoradiation therapy and faster recovery.

Traditional surgery often requires a long incision to be made across the lip and jaw in order to access the tumor. This approach can result in swelling, longer post-operative recovery, damage to surrounding structures as well as speech and swallowing problems.