Robotic Surgery for Throat and Larnyx Cancer

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin perform robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgical procedures (transoral robotic surgery) for certain types of throat and larnyx cancer.
What is da Vinci Robotic Surgery?
Surgery using the da Vinci robot (pictured below) serves as a surgical alternative to conventional open and laparoscopic procedures for certain patients.

Surgeon Timothy McCulloch, MD, says robotic surgery is a less-invasive method for removing tumors in the head and neck.

The da Vinci robot is a surgical console from which our surgeons perform the procedure. The console includes two important components:
  • A three-dimensional camera system that provides a magnified view of the interior of the patient's body and the surgical area
  • Robotic arms through which the surgeon manipulates miniature instruments that afford greater accuracy and control
The da Vinci Procedure for Throat Cancer
Transoral robotic surgery, or TORS, is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure for removing cancers of the tonsils, tongue base and larynx using the da Vinci robot that offers significantly shorter recovery times, with patients experiencing fewer side effects and returning to normal activities sooner.

Learn more about transoral robotic surgery (TORS)
UW Health robotic surgery: A surgeon using the da Vinci robot.The Advantage of Robotic Surgery
Cancer surgery is always a serious intervention, and surgery to remove tumors located near the throat and tongue is particularly challenging because the surgeon's view of the area surrounding the tumor is often compromised. Also, the structure of the jaw makes for an awkward, cramped surgical geography. In non-da Vinci procedures for throat cancer, surgeons often have to make significant incisions to access and remove the tumor.
By using the da Vinci robot during surgery, UW Health ENT surgeons can operate without incisions, use the three-dimensional camera that is part of the da Vinci system for a clearer view of the surgical area and use the da Vinci system's miniaturized "hands" to make more accurate and nuanced surgical maneuvers. Using the da Vinci system may also eliminate or reduce the need for chemotherapy and radiation.

General Advantages of Robotic Surgery

For most patients, minimally invasive surgery performed with the da Vinci Surgical System can offer numerous potential benefits, including: 
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain and scarring
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less blood loss and fewer transfusions
  • Faster recovery
  • Quicker return to normal activities