Head and Neck Surgery

Transoral Robotic Surgery

Dr. Kurt E. Heiland of Scottsdale Ear Nose and Throat performs robotic-assisted minimally invasive head and neck surgery. The use of this transoral robotic surgery reduces recovery time and minimizes surgical risks. Transoral robotic surgery is often used for certain types of throat cancer and sleep apnea.

What is transoral robotic surgery (TORS)?

Transoral robotic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure for removing cancer of the tonsils, tongue base and larynx utilizing the da Vinci robot. Excess tongue base is also removed in some sleep apnea patients.

Who is a candidate for transoral robotic surgery?

Not all patients with cancer of the tonsil, tongue base, or larynx are candidates for this procedure. TORS is only offered if it has the potential of reducing side effects of treatment compared to other available treatment options. Sleep apnea patients who fail CPAP are potential candidates for TORS. The decision to offer TORS or recommend another form of treatment is best made by an experienced head and neck surgeon, like Kurt E. Hieland, M.D.

Head & Neck Surgery (TORS)How does robotic surgery work?

Dr. Kurt E. Heiland  controls  the three arms of the da Vinci robot. A central arm has a binocular high resolution camera and the two side arms serve as the working “hands” of the robot. These hands are much smaller than human hands and allow movements and skills not otherwise possible. The surgeon is seated at a console where he directs the movement of these hands and in this way performs the operation. Dr. Heiland is performing the operation, but using these robotic hands rather than his human hands.

What are the benefits for people undergoing TORS?

TORS of the head and neck allows for the removal of tumors in a more efficient fashion than in traditional open operations. As a result, recovery and ultimate patient function and appearance can be much improved. No open neck incision or flap closure is required.

Will I have visible scars?

TORS leaves no external scars but is often combined with removal of lymph nodes from the neck, which can leave a single scar on the neck. Every effort is made to make this scar as inconspicuous as possible.

Are there side effects or complications due to robotic surgery?

The primary side effects of surgery include an initial period of discomfort much like a tonsillectomy, and also a small risk of bleeding after surgery. Problems with speech and swallowing after TORS are usually minor. Only 3 in 100 patients will experience post operative bleeding, with only 1 out of 100 patients requiring intervention to stop bleeding.

How long is recovery?

Recovery following TORS is significantly shorter compared to open procedures. Patients experience fewer side effects and are able to return to normal activities sooner. Patients should contact Dr. Heiland’s office with further questions about what to expect following the transoral robotic surgery (TORS).