This minimally invasive approach is safe, likely speeds wound healing and has a superior cosmetic result, according to findings published in the June issue of Laryngoscope.
The study looked at 44 patients with cancerous or benign thyroid disease who had surgery between September 2003 and May 2004 at Medical College of Georgia Medical Center or the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta.
"This is a very straightforward approach in skilled hands that allows us to use smaller incisions while still safely identifying important structures in the area, which are the nerves to the voice box and the parathyroid glands," says Dr. David J. Terris, Porubsky Professor and chair of the MCG Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and lead author on the study.
This approach incorporates various techniques to reduce the typical incision size across the base of the neck from about three to four inches to one to two inches while still enabling removal of all or part of the peach-sized gland that controls metabolism. Growths on this gland can cause jitters and weight loss.
"We use retractors to get exposure and use telescopes and other laparoscopic instruments that can fit through a small incision then we work off the video screen," says Dr. Terris. "I send many patients home the day of surgery because it's so much less invasive."
To access the thyroid, most otolaryngologists make a horizontal incision at the base of neck, called a transverse cervical collar incision, move the muscles and dissect out the thyroid. This approach remains the best option for some patients who have had previous surgery or have an extremely enlarged thyroid.
But most patients 65 percent of the 44 patients in the study likely can benefit from a smaller, more direct approach, Dr. Terris says
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia