Robotic surgery uses state-of-the-art technology that allows surgeons to safely remove certain thyroid cancers through tiny incisions several inches from the neck. Because no incision is made in the neck, the patient avoids a neck scar. Surgeons at MD Anderson led the way to implement and refine robotic thyroidectomy in the United States.
The da Vinci® surgical system is a highly sophisticated computerized system that is used for robotic thyroid surgery. The surgeon cuts a 1-inch to 2-inch incision in the folds of skin under the patient’s arm and inserts the da Vinci® system’s robotic arms, which have been customized to resemble standard surgical instruments. The surgeon guides the robotic arms underneath the skin toward the thyroid gland.
The surgeon views the surgical field on a 3-D high-definition screen, magnified up to 10 times. The skilled surgeons at MD Anderson control the da Vinci® system’s robotic arms as one might control conventional surgery. The instruments on the robotic arms can move with seven degrees of movement and rotate 540 degrees, giving the surgeon the ability to manipulate delicate tissues with precision.
Robotic thyroidectomy is not available for all thyroid tumors. If your thyroid tumor is less than 3 centimeters in size and is likely to be benign (noncancerous), then robotic surgery may be an option. Your surgeons will help you decide the best approach for you.