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Head and Neck Procedures

Procedure overview

There are multiple conditions of the head and neck which cover a wide range. They include, but are not limited to, cancers of the mouth, soft palate, tongue, throat, and tonsils.

Tumors in the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils can be a technical challenge to reach and have traditionally been removed through surgeries requiring a large neck incision and cutting of the bottom jaw. These types of surgeries often require long hospital stays, extensive rehabilitation and may result in difficulty in swallowing and speaking.[1]

 

Figure 1. No incsions of Robot Assisted Sugery vs the large incision of Open surgery

Transoral robot assisted surgery makes it possible to reach these tumors through the mouth using robotic technology and minimally invasive techniques. The surgical approach allows for a guided endoscope to provide a high resolution, 3D image of the back of the mouth and throat that is a difficult area to reach with conventional tools. With two robotically-guided instruments that act as a surgeon’s arms, tumors are able to be dissected free from surrounding tissue safely.[1]

Learn more about what robotic assisted surgery is and how surgeons use the technology here.

Potential Benefits​

Reported benefits of robotic assisted head and neck surgery includes:

  • Allows preservation of speech and swallowing without compromising oncologic outcomes.[2],[3]  Decreases the need for postoperative tube feedings.[2],[3]

Additional Patient Resources

Visit the the Canadian Cancer Society for more informational about the disease, diagnosis, treatment options and support available.

Precare.ca has created an animation in english and french detailing transoral robotic surgery to help patients prepare for surgery.

Community Groups

Educational Videos

TORS – hidden primary tumours

Ability to speak and swallow is significant outcome

Patient speaks about salivary gland cancer

Donations are critical in support of surgical innovation

Risks & Considerations

Not everyone is a candidate for robotic assisted procedures, and other treatment options may be available and appropriate. Only a doctor can determine whether robotic assisted surgery is appropriate for a patient’s situation. Surgery of any form contains risks and it is important to discuss risks with your provider. Patients and doctors should review all available information on both non-surgical and surgical options in order to make an informed decision.

Patients have also developed support areas where they are able to speak with each other about the surgery, their experiences, and any issues that they have faced during their treatment. To learn more check out the additional resources above or visit the community section of this website.

[1] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/cancers_we_treat/head_neck/head_neck_robotic_surgery.html

[2] Genden EM, Desai S, Sung CK. Transoral robotic surgery for the management of head and neck cancer; a preliminary experience. Head Neck 2009; 31(3): 283-9.

[3] Iseli TA, Kulbersh BD, Iseli CE, Carroll WR et al. Functional outcomes after transoral robotic surgery for head and neck cancer. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2009; 141(2):166-71.