Many patients put off surgical procedures due to adverse effects such as health and cosmetic risks, pain, and an extensive recovery period.

These negative effects can be extensive with traditional surgical procedures, but the use of robots for surgical procedures has made it possible for patients to undergo much-needed surgical procedures with reduced harmful effects.

As Arizona’s leader for ENT health, Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat helps reduce the adverse effects of the head and neck surgical procedures required by our patients using an advanced technology surgical procedure known as Transoral Robotic Surgery or TORS.

As part of our commitment to educate our patients and the community, we’d like to provide you with some insight into what TORS is and how we use it in our ENT practice.

What is TORS?

TORS is a type of minimally invasive robotic surgery that utilizes a machine known as the da Vinci robot to execute surgical procedures in and around the tonsils, base of the tongue, and larynx. The procedure is transoral, which means that it is performed through the mouth.

Robotic Surgery was developed in 2004-2005 for urologic, thoracic, and abdominal procedures, but it was adapted for otolaryngological use in order to reduce the duration of the surgical procedure, loss of blood, and the frequency of complications.

Since its FDA approval in 2009, TORS has been used to avoid the potentially disastrous complications of cancer removal in the neck and throat and a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

Besides allowing our surgical professionals access to small and difficult to reach areas in the throat, TORS procedures also produce a shorter duration and scarless recovery with less pain and harmful side effects than traditional surgical procedures.

Side Effects and Recovery Following a TORS Procedure

An initial period of discomfort with a slight risk of post-op bleeding (3% of patients) as well as some short-term difficulty with speech and swallowing are common side effects following a TORS procedure.

Compared to traditional procedures, the recovery period following TORS is significantly less due to the decreased frequency and intensity of complications, allowing patients to resume normal activity much faster.

How Does Scottsdale ENT Use TORS?            

Our TORS specialists at Scottsdale ENT, Dr. Kurt E. Heiland, and Dr. Cheryl A. MacKechnie, use this procedure to treat cancer and sleep apnea to:

  • Reduce the side effects of traditional procedures
  • Limit or eliminate the intensity of radiation therapy
  • Avoid tracheostomy
  • Shorten hospital stays
  • Reduce post-op complications
  • Eliminate scarring

Typical candidates for TORS include patients with cancer in the tonsils, tongue base, or larynx who are not seeing positive results from other treatment options.

In addition, patients who receive inadequate or no benefit from the use of CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) therapy are considered for TORS.

Scottsdale ENT is a Leader in TORS Procedures

Head and neck pain can become debilitating, disrupting your capacity to go about your daily routine. A TORS procedure can help reduce head and neck pain or provide a viable solution in the treatment of various types of localized cancer.

The award-winning doctors at Scottsdale ENT are recognized leaders in head and neck surgery throughout Arizona, well versed in performing TORS procedures for our qualified patients.

Contact us if you or a loved one is considering a head or neck surgical procedure or would like more information about TORS.

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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.