Minimally Invasive/Robot Assisted Head and Neck Surgery
Cancers of the larynx (voice box) and pharynx (throat) are challenging to treat because they occur in a region of the body devoted to essential functions, such as speaking and swallowing. As humans, our ability to speak and swallow normally are essential to social interactions with others. Thus the goal of head and neck cancer treatment is to remove the cancer while preserving patient function and quality of life.
Over the last quarter century, we have experienced a revolution in minimally invasive radiotherapy techniques such as Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)and Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) which can deliver maximal radiation to the tumor region while sparing normal tissue and improving patient function post treatment completion. These advances have been paralleled by technological improvements in minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Although the laser has been utilized in the fields of laryngology and head and neck surgery for nearly half a century, current laser technology and improvements in associated equipment offer surgeons improved visualization, control of bleeding, and the ability to perform complex procedures. These technological improvements allow us to treat early and intermediate stage laryngeal cancers without the need for open surgical approaches, tracheostomy and gastrostomy tube placement, greatly improving patient quality of life.
The introduction of Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) for early stage oropharyngeal cancer provides a very useful alternative to radiation therapy in patients with oropharyngeal cancer associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV+) and an important adjunct for patients with more aggressive disease requiring multi-modality treatment. TORS and Transoral Laser Microsurgery (TLM) capabilities are integrated into our multidisciplinary approach to cancer at all of our associated hospitals and all patients who are candidates for minimally invasive surgery are offered this option. Our colleagues in laryngeal surgery and our dedicated speech and language pathologists offer crucial support for restoration of function after patients undergo minimally invasive surgery.