Minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy: five years of experience

Paolo Miccoli, Piero Berti, Gabriele Materazzi, Michele Minuto, Leonardo Barellini
Journal of the American College of Surgeons 2004, 199 (2): 243-8

BACKGROUND: In the last decade, development of videolaparoscopic surgery allowed several operations to be performed with minimally invasive techniques, making them less invasive and painful. Neck surgery was also involved in this effort, in spite of the skepticism shown by some authors.

STUDY DESIGN: Minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy was developed in 1998, and since then, about 600 operations have been performed. Access was the same as was previously described for parathyroidectomy; it was based on a small central incision (1.5 cm) and on external retraction without neck insufflation.

RESULTS: From July 1998 to October 2003, 579 patients were selected from 5,450 for minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy. The operation consisted of a total thyroidectomy in 312 patients and lobectomy in 267 patients. Mean operative time was 41 +/- 19.5 minutes (range 15 to 120 minutes) for lobectomy and 51.6 +/- 18.8 minutes (range 30 to 140 minutes) for total thyroidectomy. Postoperative hospital stay was 24 hours (overnight discharge) for all patients. Complications were postoperative bleeding (0.1%), recurrent nerve palsy (1.3%), and definitive hypoparathyroidism (0.2%).

CONCLUSIONS: After 5 years of experience using this approach for various indications, we achieved a good esthetic result with an operative time comparable to that of conventional open surgery. Minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy was found to be a safe operation, with advantages over traditional procedures represented by better cosmetic outcomes and postoperative course, as demonstrated by visual analogue scales and statistically analyzed numeric scales.

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