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ANZ J Surg. 2018 Nov;88(11):1129-1134. doi: 10.1111/ans.13801. Epub 2016 Oct 21.

Transoral robotic surgery: implementation as a tool in head and neck surgery - a single-centre Australian experience.

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Division of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) is now a well-validated technique for resection of head and neck cancers. Benefits include reduced patient morbidity, swallowing preservation and rationalization of adjuvant therapies.


This was a single-centre, retrospective review of 35 patients who underwent TORS of oro-, retro- and parapharyngeal tumours between March 2014 and August 2015. Outcome measures included resection margins, swallowing function and impact on post-operative radiotherapy.


Median age was 63.7 years and the number of male patients was 22 (62.9%). Tongue base was the most common site (51.4%), followed by tonsil (25.7%). Nine patients (25.7%) had previous radiotherapy. A total of 24 patients had squamous cell carcinoma and the clear margin rate for primary TORS was 93.3%. Median hospital stay was 5.5 days, longer for previously irradiated patients (9 days). Median nasogastric tube dependence was 3.5 days. Four patients (11.4%) received a gastrostomy and two patients remained dependent on the tube at the time of last review. There were two major complications (5.7%): bleeding requiring return to theatre (1) and pulmonary embolism (1). Post-operative radiotherapy was either avoided or reduced in 22 patients (81.5%).


TORS is a safe and effective tool, providing surgical access to oropharyngeal and other difficult to access areas. Patient selection and a multidisciplinary approach are essential to ensure adequate margins can be achieved and therefore to reduce adjuvant therapies.


head and neck; salvage; squamous cell carcinoma; transoral robotic surgery

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