Over the last four years, otolaryngologists at the Mayo Clinic have gained extensive experience using robotic surgery to remove tumors of the tonsils and base of the tongue. In a recent study, a team of head and neck surgeons investigated whether a robotic approach can also be useful in treating cancer in the narrow, hard-to-reach area in the throat beyond the tongue. “We found that the robot was a very effective tool for removing tumors of the supraglottic larynx, the part of the voice box above the vocal cords,” says Kerry Olsen, M.D., Mayo Clinic otolaryngologist and senior author of the study that was presented April 29 at the Combined Otolaryngological Spring Meetings in Chicago.
In this video, Dr. Olsen describes the study, following nine patients who underwent transoral robotic surgery for removal of supraglottic squamous cell carcinoma. The findings showed that the approach can provide excellent cancer outcomes with minimal surgical complications. It also offered patients long-term preservation of throat functions, like speaking and swallowing. With further study involving larger groups of patients and long-term follow-up, robotic surgery may be another treatment option for removing cancers of the upper throat.