What is Robotic Thyroidectomy?
Robotic thyroidectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the thyroid gland without any scars. In this procedure, incisions are made in the underarm region to allow navigation of surgical instruments around the thyroid gland and remove the gland without damage to surrounding blood vessels and nerves. Compared to conventional thyroid surgery, robotic thyroidectomy is precise, safe, and only involves small incisions in the underarm area, which do not take much time to recover and do not leave a scar on the neck.
Alternate Name of Robotic Thyroidectomy
Robotic transaxillary thyroidectomy
How is a Robotic Thyroidectomy performed?
Robotic thyroidectomy involves making a tiny incision under the arm, technically termed an axillary approach. The incision is as small as 5 cm, but it is away from visible sites, as opposed to conventional thyroid surgery. Robotic thyroidectomy is performed using the da Vinci system that involves:
- Robotic hands are tiny wristed instruments with a wide range of action and movement
- The 3D camera that captures images of the target site
- Console, which is the working place for the surgeon
During robotic thyroidectomy, a 3D camera and tiny wristed instruments are inserted through the keyhole incisions. The images captured by this equipment are magnified and shown on a monitor. These images help the surgeon navigate tiny wristed robotic instruments around the target areas to precisely remove the thyroid gland. These robotic instruments enable a wide range of movements that are difficult for the human wrist, thus ensuring minimum to zero damage to surrounding tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. Also, there is maximum preservation of healthy tissues in this procedure.
The advantages of robotic thyroidectomy are smaller incisions, invisible scars, reduced damage to healthy structures, and shorter recovery time and hospital stay.
Preparation for Robotic Thyroidectomy
Preparing for a robotic thyroidectomy is just as simple as any other surgical procedure. You are advised not to eat anything at least eight hours before the surgery, as it may interfere with the administration of anesthesia. You may be asked to stop taking anticoagulation drugs or blood thinners for at least seven days before the surgery. It is also advised to get admitted into the hospital at least one to two days before the procedure.
Post-operative care is one of the critical steps of any surgery. You can be discharged from the hospital 24 hours post-surgery. Though it is a minimally invasive procedure, there are certain things that you should and should not do. You may be prescribed thyroid hormone medicines. In case you are already taking them, your dosage may be adjusted.
A healthy diet is key to a speedy recovery. You may be asked to refrain from vigorous physical activity and lifting weights for at least 2 to 6 weeks post-surgery. Other regular activities like driving, walking, bathing, taking care of yourself, etc., can resume a week post-surgery. You will be asked to get your thyroid hormones checked after six weeks of surgery.
- Bleeding at or around the site of surgery
- Infection at the site where the surgery is being performed
- Damage to surrounding blood vessels/tissues
Recovery From Robotic Thyroidectomy Surgery
Ideally, the recovery time depends on your body type, medical history, and how well you coped during surgery. The usual recovery time post robotic thyroidectomy is between one and six weeks. You will not be required to be in bed all the time just 24 hours after surgery. You can resume driving, do other routine chores, and work one to two weeks post-surgery. However, you must rest more often than before for at least two months after surgery. Any activity that involves straining your upper body, head, and neck, like sitting up for too long, having your head unrested for a long time, twisting and turning your shoulders, hands, or neck, etc., is to be avoided.