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Ann Surg Oncol. 2014 Nov;21(12):3859-64. doi: 10.1245/s10434-014-3838-8. Epub 2014 Jun 17.

Robotic thyroidectomy for cancer in the US: patterns of use and short-term outcomes.

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Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.



We describe nationally representative patterns of utilization and short-term outcomes from robotic versus open thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer.


Descriptive statistics and multivariable analysis were used to analyze patterns of use of robotic thyroidectomy from the National Cancer Database (2010-2011). Short-term outcomes were compared between patients undergoing robotic versus open thyroidectomy, while adjusting for confounders.


A total of 68,393 patients with thyroid cancer underwent thyroidectomy; 225 had robotic surgery and 57,729 underwent open surgery. Robotic thyroid surgery use increased by 30 % from 2010 to 2011 (p = 0.08). Robotic cases were reported from 93 centers, with 89 centers performing <10 robotic cases. Compared with the open group, the robotic group was younger (51 vs. 47 years; p < 0.01) and included more Asian patients (4 vs. 8 %; p = 0.006) and privately-insured patients (68 vs. 77 %; p = 0.01). Tumor size was similar between patients undergoing robotic versus open surgery. Total thyroidectomy was performed less frequently in the robotic group (67 vs. 84 % open; p < 0.0001). Patients were relatively more likely to undergo robotic surgery if they were female (odds ratio [OR] 1.6; p = 0.04), younger (OR 0.8/10 years; p < 0.0001), or underwent lobectomy (OR 2.4; p < 0.0001). In adjusted multivariable analysis, there were no differences in the number of lymph nodes removed or length of stay between groups; however, there was a non-significant increase in the incidence of positive margins with robotic thyroidectomy.


Use of robotic thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer is limited to a few institutions, with short-term outcomes that are comparable to open surgery. Multi-institutional studies should be undertaken to compare thyroidectomy-specific complications and long-term outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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