When a doctor informs you that a surgical procedure is necessary, your first concerns usually include the risks, possible complications, pain, and length of recovery period, which often lead patients to put off or avoid surgery.

The use of robotic surgery in place of traditional procedures has made it possible to reduce all of these common side effects.

As Arizona’s leader for ENT health, Scottsdale ENT works to limit the adverse effects of the head and neck surgical procedures using an advanced technology surgical procedure known as Transoral Robotic Surgery or TORS.

Because we dedicate ourselves to keeping our patients and the community up to date on cutting-edge treatment options, we’d like to give you some insight into how TORS works, its benefits, and how we apply it in our practice.

What is TORS?

A Transoral Robotic Surgery procedure involves using a da Vinci robot to execute a surgical procedure in and around the tonsils, base of the tongue, and larynx.

This minimally invasive surgical procedure is performed through the mouth, giving the surgeon improved access to areas that are small and difficult to reach in the throat.

How Does TORS Work?

During a TORS procedure, the patient is placed on an operating table adjacent to the robotic instrument while the surgeon sits nearby at a control panel.

The control panel display provides a 3D high-resolution image of the target tissue (often a tumor) and the surrounding tissue.

Using the controls included with the panel, the surgeon manipulates the robotic instrument to perform the procedure. The main advantage of the robotic instrument is its tremor-free stability, greater flexibility, and improved range of movement within the confined area.

The Benefits of a TORS Procedure

Traditional surgery usually requires an incision through the throat or a need to split the jawbone to gain access to the affected area.

In contrast, TORS allows surgeons access to the affected area through the patient’s mouth, eliminating the need for an open incision, allowing for:

  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Faster recovery time
  • Fewer post-op complications
  • Reduced risk of damage to surrounding tissues that could affect speech and swallowing
  • Limiting or avoiding the need for full-dose radiation or chemotherapy

How TORS Is Used at Scottsdale ENT

Patients with cancer in the tonsils, tongue base or larynx who are not seeing positive results from other treatment options are the most likely candidates for TORS at Scottsdale ENT.

However, we have also seen success in treating patients with severe sleep apnea that does not respond to CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) therapy.

Scottsdale ENT is a TORS Leader in Arizona

Cancer, sleep apnea, and head and neck pain have the potential to significantly disrupt your capacity to go about your daily routine, reducing your quality of life.

A TORS procedure provides a viable solution for conditions that do not respond to traditional treatment options with fewer risks and side effects and shorter recovery times.

Dr. Kurt E. Heiland and Dr. Cheryl A. MacKechnie, award-winning doctors at Scottsdale ENT, are recognized leaders in TORS head and neck procedures throughout Arizona.

If you or a loved one is considering a head or neck surgical procedure or would like more information about TORS, feel free to contact us.

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Dr. Cheryl A. MacKechnie, MD

Dr. Cheryl A. MacKechnie is board certified in otolaryngology and treats a broad range of ear, nose, and throat conditions. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, she completed her residency in otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
    You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again – Regina’s Story

    Regina has suffered from hearing problems since she was an infant, recognized as regular chronic ear infections. And, as with unfortunate events, she has experienced a multitude of audiology catastrophes.

    It was many years before Regina crossed paths with Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat; where her lifetime of hearing problems was addressed effectively and treated with the delicate care that she desperately required.

    Regina’s journey began when she was taken to a regular paediatrician by her mother from a young age. Her ears were, what we describe as an audiologists recipe for disaster, ‘flushed out’.

    This dangerous procedure caused a nasty infection, which spread to her mastoid bone and, at the age of 15, she underwent a tympanoplasty mastoidectomy to stop the infection spreading. This only forbade her future struggles with hearing loss. 

    As with poor diagnosis, Regina was faced with another canaloplasty which didn’t work. Soon after, she received a BAHA, which is a cochlear implant in her skull that acts as a sound processor that detects sound and transforms it into vibrations. 

    However, suffering from a history of poor hearing care, she was unaware of the former issues her ear presented.

    By now, this would be described as any audiologists nightmare. But, we’re proud to have helped Regina on her road to optimum hearing and reconnect her to her loved ones.

    When she arrived at Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat it was evident that she was losing hearing on her right side. At this point, she was fitted with a ReSound hearing device, which provided the catalyst to a new and improved hearing.

    The first thing Regina noticed was the indefinite sound she had been making whilst emptying the dishwasher, completely unaware of the noise she was making!

    “I mean, the detail that I can hear now it’s like, Whoa, I didn’t realize I was making that much noise. I need to be quieter!”

    Treated with professional care, Regina received a comprehensive hearing assessment with Dr. Debra Hamila.

    “I just love, love, love Dr. Hamila, she is such a professional and loving person. I was so impressed with the office and what she did with the ReSound, I just love her.”

    Like many others, it takes years for people to realize they have a hearing problem. Regina described this moment as life-changing.

    “You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again. Especially now I’m a full-time Grammy Nanny, I can hear so much more and it has enriched my life incredibly.”

    What advice would you give to someone who is deliberating on taking the first step towards better hearing?

    “My advice to them would be to have a hearing test. Especially as we age our hearing goes down. It’s really unfortunate that people carry their pride and are not willing to learn to walk with the rock in their shoe. You don’t realise you’re waking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again.”

    Regina is one of many patients who has been impacted by our audiological services and we are proud to have been able to provide the tool towards better hearing and a lifetime of many more memories.