Endoscopic Throat Surgery
Minimally invasive or endoscopic head and neck surgery (eHNS) is a dynamic new approach that allows surgeons to remove tumors through the mouth with use of an endoscope, without external incisions and usually with little or no change in speech and swallowing function.
An endoscope is a long, thin tube with special lighting and a narrow lens through which the surgeon can view organs and tissue inside of the body. For throat cancers, the surgeon inserts the endoscope through the patient’s mouth, and a microscope provides an excellent image of the tumor. Using very precise, state-of-the-art surgical instruments that are also inserted through the mouth, the surgeon can perform the operation without an external incision.
Endoscopic head and neck surgery has several advantages, including:
- Reduced risk of blood loss
- Lower pain levels
- Fewer days spent in the hospital
- Quicker return to a normal diet, and faster recovery time
- Less scarring, with improved cosmetic appearance
In some cases of throat cancer, eHNS may reduce or even eliminate the need for chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may still be necessary after eHNS. When chemotherapy and radiation therapy cannot be avoided through surgery, eHNS may still hold advantages for patients. Faster recovery after eHNS means patients can usually begin chemotherapy and radiation therapy earlier. And the smaller incisions with eHNS heal more quickly than larger incisions and are less likely to become infected.
At MD Anderson your team of surgeons, oncologists and radiologists will work together to determine the best course of action for you. The goal with endoscopic head and neck surgery is always the same: to eliminate the cancer while minimizing the risks and recovery time associated with traditional cancer care.
Two types of eHNS, transoral robotic surgery (TORS) and transoral laser CO2 microsurgery (TLM), have revolutionized the treatment for throat cancer.