Options include minimally invasive thyroidectomy, in which surgeons work through an incision about half the size of the norm, and an endoscopic approach, in which video monitoring and a thin, ultrasonic scalpel reduce incision size another half.
"Both work well; both have a place in a usual practice," says Dr. David J. Terris, chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and lead author on research looking at the safety and efficacy of the newer approaches published in the March issue of Laryngoscope.
The online edition also features accompanying surgery video for the first time. Dr. Terris hopes the video of him performing the endoscopic approach will be a good first step for physicians interested in adopting these techniques. Practice on cadavers as well as observing the surgery first-hand are two important additional steps, he says.
The study looks at 31 patients who underwent minimally invasive removal of the thyroid gland, which helps regulate metabolic function, and 14 patients in whom pairing the endoscope with the harmonic scalpel, which coagulates as it cuts, enabled the smallest incisions yet for this approach.
Dr. Terris began using a minimally invasive approach to thyroid surgery about two years ago. Today, careful selection of patients based on factors such as the size of the diseased organ and the patient's anatomy enables him to use this approach in most patients.
While most patients with the option prefer a less-invasive approach, the standard approach, which results in a three-to-four-inch incision at the base of the neck, likely always will be needed by some, he says. This includes patients whose gland has grown too large to be removed through a small opening, even with carefu
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia