Robot-assisted pharyngeal and laryngeal microsurgery: results of robotic cadaver dissections

Neil G Hockstein, J Paul Nolan, Bert W O'Malley, Y Joseph Woo
Laryngoscope 2005, 115 (6): 1003-8

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: Robotic surgery has significant potential in pharyngeal and microlaryngeal surgery. We demonstrate the use of a surgical robot in pharyngeal and microlaryngeal surgery in a cadaver.

STUDY DESIGN: Six experimental surgical dissections, modeled after commonly performed pharyngeal and microlaryngeal procedures, were performed in a cadaver with a commercially available surgical robot in an operating room suite to demonstrate proof of concept.

METHODS: Using the daVinci Surgical Robot (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA), surgical procedures were performed on an edentulous, female cadaver. The procedures included 1) bilateral true vocal cord stripping, 2) rotation of a mucosal flap from the epiglottis to the anterior commissure, 3) partial vocal cordectomy, 4) arytenoidectomy, 5) partial epiglottectomy and thyrohyoid dissection and 6) partial resection of the base of tongue with primary closure. All procedures were timed and documented with still and video photography.

RESULTS: The daVinci Surgical Robot, with currently available instruments, enabled performance of several laryngeal and pharyngeal surgical procedures on a cadaver. Laryngeal and pharyngeal exposure was excellent, instruments movement was unimpeded, tissue handling was delicate and precise, and endolaryngeal suturing was relatively easily performed. The duration of the different robotic cadaver dissections was comparable to procedure duration using conventional techniques.

CONCLUSIONS: Using the daVinci Surgical Robot, six different pharyngeal and microlaryngeal dissections were successfully performed in a cadaver. The recent development of surgical robotics has a potential role in pharyngeal and microlaryngeal surgery. Surgical robots offer the ability to manipulate instruments at their distal ends with increased freedom of movement, scaled movement, tremor buffering, and under stereoscopic three-dimensional visualization. Surgical robots may increase the precision with which we perform currently described procedures; additionally, surgical robots may advance the field of endoscopic laryngeal and pharyngeal surgery.

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