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  • Writer's picturecatherine goldin

Robotic Surgery

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

Thyroid nodules are very common and occur in approximately 30 percent of all people in the United States. It is estimated that more than half of women will have a thyroid nodule by the age of 60. The vast majority of the nodules are benign, with about 5-10 percent being cancerous.

"Traditionally, thyroidectomy has been performed using a 4- to 8-centimer incision in the front of the neck which leaves a very visible scar. Robotic thyroidectomy is the latest, minimally invasive surgical technique that is used to remove all or part of a thyroid gland without leaving a visible scar."

Robotic surgery for thyroid disorders in the United States is currently offered at only a few leading academic medical centers. It is considered to be a safe procedure in the hands of an experienced robotic surgeon. This minimally invasive robotic approach has been created and pioneered by the leading endocrine surgeons in South Korea, and there have been many cases performed successfully worldwide. Robotic surgery also can be used to remove other benign masses of the neck, such as lipomas and thyroglossal duct cysts.

In contrary to the scars produced by the traditional anterior cervical approach where you make a 2-3 inch incision in the front of the neck, robotic thyroidectomy approach is done via hidden incisions carefully placed in either the axilla (ie. Armpit) or behind the ears within the hairline. Once the incision is made and the skin flap is carefully dissected, DaVinci robot is used to remove the gland. Another major benefit of the robotic surgery aside from the hidden scar approach, it is the x10 magnification offered by the robotic system which allows for a much more precise dissection of the thyroid gland while increasing the chance of preserving the delicate surrounding structures such as vocal cord nerves and parathyroid glands and thus reducing risks of postoperative complications.

Dr. Chang completed her fellowship training in her native country of South Korea. She received advanced robotic head and neck endocrine surgery fellowship at Yonsei Severance Hospital in Seoul, where she studied the latest, minimally invasive, thyroid and parathyroid surgery techniques. She received her training under the tutelage of Dr. WY Chung and Dr. WY Chung who were the pioneers behind the transaxillary and the retroauricular robotic thyroidectomy approaches, which are the most commonly used approaches to remove thyroid and parathyroid glands using a robot. She has successfully completed numerous cases of robotic thyroidectomy since the start of her fellowship training. In fact, she was the very first surgeon to have successfully performed retroauricular robotic thyroidectomy in Midwest (newspaper article attached here).

Dr. Chang offers minimally-invasive robotic surgery for patients who need thyroidectomy, meet specific criteria, and desire a procedure that won't leave a visible neck scar.

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