Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New approach to thyroid surgery eliminates neck scar

Minimally invasive approach allows surgeons to remove thyroid tumors by way of the armpit

As the rate of thyroid cancer continues to climb, doctors are urging patients to be more cautious about thyroid nodules, a common disorder that is responsible for a small but growing number of thyroid cancer cases.

Thyroid nodules affect nearly 13 million Americans and are a result of abnormal cell growth on the gland. Until recently, the only way to remove nodules and rule out cancer was through surgery that required a five centimeter incision across the front of the neck. The procedure, and the large scar that resulted, was a deterrent for many patients who feared altering their appearance for something that may not be life threatening. Today however, a new option exists that allows surgeons to access the neck through the armpit, allowing for a biopsy of tissue with no visible scar.

"We now have a minimally invasive way of determining if a thyroid nodule is cancerous," said Jose Dutra, MD, head and neck surgical oncologist and director of the Thyroid Surgical Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "It's an approach that more patients are comfortable pursuing. If we can identify cancerous cells earlier we increase the chance of removing the cancer before it spreads."

The procedure, transaxillary robotic thyroid surgery, utilizes 3D cameras and specially designed robotic arms to create a small incision within the armpit, the mechanical arms work just like hands allowing the specialized surgeon to operate remotely with precise control and movements to remove suspicious nodules.

"The underarm area has fewer nerve endings than the anterior neck area, so there's less pain, no scarring on the neck, and with good care, the incision will heal faster," said Dutra who is also an associate professor at the department of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

This summer, Socorro Delaluz became one of the first patients at Northwestern Memorial to undergo transaxillary thyroid robotic surgery. The mother of two was impressed to have the option that left no visible scar and the quick recovery associated with the technique.

"I didn't want to be reminded constantly, every morning when I get dressed that I had a scar across my neck. I would have to explain to everyone what happened all the time," expressed Delaluz.

Another benefit of the minimally invasive approach is that the precision of the robot allows physicians to remove all of the potentially cancerous tissue while sparing more of the structure surrounding the gland.

"The thyroid gland controls how the body uses energy. Changes to the gland can cause a myriad of health issues," explained Dutra, member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Thyroid nodules are six-times more common in women than men and can be difficult to diagnose because they often do not present signs or symptoms. Most nodules are small and are often found incidentally during a routine physical or imaging for an unrelated condition. Conditions that can cause one or more nodules to develop in the thyroid gland range from overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue, tumors, a cyst, inflammation and goiters. Individuals should routinely check their neck and should talk with their doctor if they notice any lumps or experience symptoms such as swelling, trouble swallowing, and pain in the throat or hoarseness of the voice.

Robotic surgery is currently widely used for minimally invasive heart and lower abdominal procedures, only recently have the robotic arms been applied to the confined space involved in neck and head surgery. The benefits for robotic thyroid surgery include shorter recovery period, less pain in neck following surgery and better preservation of the laryngeal nerves and the parathyroid glands.

Jennifer Panaro recently had a large nodule removed from her thyroid gland by way of transaxillary thyroid robotic surgery and was back on the tennis court just six weeks after her surgery. The 28 year old was impressed with the speedy recovery and was pleased her voice was protected. "I was thrilled to not experience any changes in my voice or to have deal with a large scar on my neck. As an accountant, I talk to clients all day and I would be self conscious about having a foreign mark across my throat," said Panaro, patient at Northwestern Memorial.

While the new technology has great advantages, Dutra stresses this option is not the best for all patients and not all tumors can be removed with this approach.

For more information about minimally invasive surgery at Northwestern Memorial please visit, or to schedule an appointment, please call 312-926-0779.

About Northwestern Memorial HealthCare

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent corporation of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 854-bed academic medical center hospital and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 205-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois.

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Northwestern Memorial is one of the country's premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Along with its Prentice Women's Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital comprises 854 beds, 1,603 affiliated physicians and 7,144 employees. Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women's health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopaedics.

Northwestern Memorial possesses nursing Magnet Status, the nation's highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence. It is also listed in 13 clinical specialties in U.S. News & World Report's 2011 "America's Best Hospitals" guide and ranks No. 1 in Chicago in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals metro area rankings. For 10 years running, Northwestern Memorial has been rated among the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation's annual survey for 11 years.

Angela Salerno | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Lake Baikal robotic arm thyroid cancer thyroid gland thyroid surgery

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>