Quality of Life Outcomes after Robotic Thyroid Surgery
Clinical and Experimental Thyroidology
Clinical and Experimental Thyroidology, Vol.8(1) : 19~25, 2015
The robotic approach is the new frontier of thyroid cancer surgery, with several advantages over conventional open and endoscopic techniques. Recent assessments of quality of life (QoL) outcomes have found that patients undergoing robotic thyroid surgery using transaxillary approach experience lower levels of dissatisfaction and regret than patients undergoing conventional open thyroid surgery, largely due to differences in cosmetic outcomes. Prospective trials evaluating functional parameters, including pain, neck discomfort, and sensory changes in the neck, have favored robotic over conventional open thyroid surgery. Similarly, objective and subjective evaluations of voice and swallowing discomfort were improved in patients undergoing robotic thyroidectomy. Thus, use of a robot results in overall increases in cosmetic satisfaction and decreases in several measures of postoperative discomfort compared with the conventional open thyroid technique. However, a proper evaluation of QoL requires long-term assessments, and randomized controlled trials are necessary to definitively establish the real benefits of robotic surgery. This review provides merits and demerits of robotic thyroidectomy and radical neck dissection, based on published data, as well as comparing QoL outcomes after robotic and conventional open thyroidectomy.