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Surg Endosc. 2012 Aug;26(8):2259-66. doi: 10.1007/s00464-012-2169-8. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

Robotic transaxillary endocrine surgery: a comparison with conventional open technique.

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  • 1Department of Endocrine Surgery, Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute, The Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, F20, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.



Robotic transaxillary (RT) endocrine surgery may improve cosmetic outcomes. We report our initial experience in RT thyroid and parathyroid surgery and the associated learning curve, and compare early surgical outcomes to those of open thyroidectomy (OT) and focal parathyroidectomy (FP).


A prospective database review identified patients who had undergone RT endocrine surgery. A case-matched group who underwent OT or FP was also identified. Demographics, histopathology, operative outcomes, and follow-up data were collected. Groups were compared using Student's t test and the χ(2) test.


Fifteen RT procedures were performed: 11 RT thyroidectomies (6 total, 5 lobectomies) and 4 RT parathyroidectomies (2 focal, 2 unilateral), representing 5.9% and 2.2% of thyroidectomies and parathyroidectomies performed. The OT group contained 16 patients (13 totals, 3 lobectomies). The FP group contained 12 patients. There was no significant difference in age, gender, BMI, pathology, or complications between the groups. Mean operating time was significantly longer in the RT group (232 vs. 109 min, P = 0.0002) as was mean incision length (6 vs. 3.6 cm, P < 0.0001). No RT procedures were converted and no major complications occurred. Operating time decreased significantly over consecutive cases demonstrating a learning curve.


RT thyroidectomy and parathyroidectomy can be performed safely by specialist endocrine surgeons, early in their learning curve, without an increased complication rate, albeit with significantly longer operating times.

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