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Robotic Surgery Safe For Some Head And Neck Tumors

Last Updated: April 21, 2009.

Robot-assisted surgery to treat upper aerodigestive tract tumors is feasible and safe provided certain criteria are met, according to a study published in the April issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery.

TUESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Robot-assisted surgery to treat upper aerodigestive tract tumors is feasible and safe provided certain criteria are met, according to a study published in the April issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery.

Bridget A. Boudreaux, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, conducted a study of 36 patients, of whom 29 (81 percent) successfully underwent robotic resection of oral cavity, oropharyngeal, hypopharyngeal or laryngeal tumors.

In all 29 cases negative margins were obtained and 21 patients were safely extubated before leaving the operating theater, while seven patients required a gastrostomy tube postoperatively and two required it preoperatively, the researchers found. Patients with lower T classification and edentulism were more likely to have successful robotic resection, while older patients, those with tumors in the larynx, a higher T classification, and a lower preoperative M. D. Anderson Dysphagia Inventory score, were more likely to require a gastrostomy tube, the investigators discovered.

"This study further demonstrates the feasibility and safety of robot-assisted resection of upper aerodigestive tract tumors. The surgical robot has several advantages over traditional endoscopic and open approaches, including three-dimensional visualization, tremor filtration, and greater freedom of instrument movement," the authors write. "[However] this study does not confirm oncologic or functional superiority to any standard method of treatment."

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