Comparing the Safety of Thyroidectomy Approaches

Robotic Thyroidectomy vs. Endoscopic Thyroidectomy

highlight on hand wearing a blue glove holding an endoscopeIn a study, a team of researchers set out to understand the effectiveness and safety of two types of thyroidectomy procedures: the robotic thyroidectomy (RT) and endoscopic thyroidectomy (ET). RT uses a system of cameras and robotic hands to access the thyroid gland via an incision under the arm and on the chest. It allows patients to have a thyroidectomy without the neck scar commonly seen in patients who have ET.

The study, “Robotic thyroidectomy versus endoscopic thyroidectomy: a meta-analysis,” was published online ahead of print in the World Journal of Surgical Oncology. It appeared online in November 2012.

To compare the effectiveness of the 2 procedures, the researchers conducted a literature review of past studies which reported patient outcomes following RT and ET. The study authors calculated pooled odds ratios and weighted mean differences (95% CI) to determine the risks of complications associated with each procedure.

The literature search resulted in 6 relevant studies, and data on 2,048 patients. Of those participants, 978 underwent RT, while 1,070 had ET.

The researchers determined that patients who had RT were more likely to also have complications and more drainage fluid related to their surgery. However, the researchers did not find any significant differences between the average length of the operating procedure, length of patients’ post-surgery hospital stay, and the number of lymph nodes in patients who had ET or RT.

The study authors conclude that their meta-analysis demonstrates that robotic thyroidectomy is associated with a higher risk of complications and more drainage fluid than endoscopic thyroidectomy. They argue that their results do not support an advantage of RT over ET. However, because of the small number of studies examined in the present analysis, more research is needed to better understand the risks and benefits of both procedures.

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