Robotic ENT and Head and Neck Surgeries Is the Future of Medicine
Robotic eye surgery trial. (Photo Credits: skeeze/Pixabay)

With the advancement in technology, medicine and the healthcare sector too is observing a paradigm shift in treating patients with critical diseases. One such instance is the use of robots for performing critical surgeries with high precision, dexterity and manoeuvrability under the observance of surgeons. To explain robotic ENT and head & neck surgery and highlight the benefits of undergoing this surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals organized a press briefing today. The session was addressed by Dr Kalpana Nagpal, Sr Consultant & Robotic Surgeon, Dept of ENT and Head & neck surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.   

Explaining about Robotic ENT surgery, Dr Kalpana Nagpal said, “Robots are the future of medicine and the future of surgeries. They have helped improve surgical outcomes to a great extent.  They have been assisting surgeons and have helped in performing complex procedures with ease and safety. Conventional head & neck procedures require a lot of surgical dissection with large incisions which can be avoided in Robotic surgeries. Robotic surgeries are not performed by the robot but commands are given by the surgeons and robotic arms with seven degrees of freedom follow the command. Human wrists, elbows and shoulders only have a limited degree of movement, unlike robotic arms which have 360-degree movement. They can reach inaccessible areas with ease as they are snake-like and flexible. Movements by the robotic arms are miniature by 5 mm instruments unlike gross hand movements of the surgeons making complex surgical procedures successful with high precision.”

“Surgery with a medical robot is a great alternative to conventional procedures for patients and can replace both open and laparoscopic procedures in many cases. Transoral (through the mouth) robotic surgery is minimally invasive, and greatly reduces the recovery time and its side effects,” added Dr Nagpal.

Talking about the advantages of Robotic ENT surgery, Dr Kalpana further added, “There are various benefits to surgeons as well as the patients undergoing a robotic surgery.  The surgery proves to be a boon for surgeons as this provides them with a 3D binocular vision with 10X magnification; fingers tremors get eliminated through software filters, the procedure does not require any awkward bending of the back or shoulder causing aches and pains. Other than this the budding medical professionals can learn and watch the complete procedure on a 2D screen which was difficult to observe in conventional procedures. The surgeons get excellent hand-eye coordination and there is enhanced depth.”

“For patients, robotic surgery helps in faster recovery with minimal or no blood loss hence no requirement for blood transfusion, minimal pain, no or hidden scars providing great cosmesis, short hospital stay due to quicker recovery, cost-effective and no injury to major neural or vascular structures. Excellent cosmesis is an added advantage due to which more and more patients are opting for robotic surgeries these days,” Dr Kalpana further explained.   

There are several types of head and neck surgical procedures that can be performed successfully through robotic-assisted surgery. Robotics can be used to treat the following head and neck ailments:

  • Snoring and obstructive Sleep apnea
  • Thyroid surgery
  • Parathyroid surgery
  • Neck dissections
  • Tumours of the oral cavity, oropharynx and larynx
  • Recurrent Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Others like Hemangiomas, Lingual thyroid, floppy epiglottis, elongated styloid processes (Eagle’s syndrome) and cysts in the lower throat

Transoral robotic surgery is presently ideal for cancers or benign tumours of the oropharynx and supraglottis. Following Transoral Robotic surgeries, the need for cutting the jaw, feeding tubes, blood transfusions or tracheostomies are not usually required unlike in traditional surgeries. Patients undergoing surgeries for these conditions are giving us excellent feedback with improved quality of life.