Robotic transaxillary thyroid surgery

Naomi Rabinovics, Patrick Aidan


Recent technological advances have led to a rapid progress in endocrine surgery. With the advent of minimally invasive techniques in thyroid surgery, robot-assisted transaxillary thyroid surgery (RATS) has emerged as one of the most promising approaches. Its main advantages are improved cosmetic outcome, avoiding cervical incisions, increased patient satisfaction, improved visualization, arms articulations, eliminating surgeon’s natural tremor, thereby increasing precision. The main disadvantages are longer operative time, and increased cost compared to conventional thyroidectomy, as well as potential injuries to the brachial plexus, skin flap, esophagus, and trachea. Large-scale studies, mainly from South-Korea, have proved that in skilled hands, RATS is a safe alternative to conservative thyroidectomy and should be presented to patients with aesthetic concerns. As with any new emerging technique, careful patient selection is crucial, and further evidence must be sought to confirm its indications.