Traditionally, treatment of hard-to-reach tumors in the throat, base of the tongue and tonsils has required a large incision through the lip and neck, with a cut made in the lower jaw. This approach often requires long hospital stays, extensive rehabilitation and may result in difficulty in swallowing and speaking following surgery.
Now, advances in surgical technology available at Mercy make it possible to reach these tumors through the mouth, using robotic-assisted, minimally invasive techniques.
A thin tube with a camera provides a high-resolution, 3D imaging of the back of the mouth and throat – an area difficult to reach with conventional tools. Two robotically-guided instruments act as the surgeon’s arms and hands, allowing the surgeon to dissect tumors with greater precision, preserving as much of the surrounding tissue as possible.
Affected areas of the mouth, throat and neck that might benefit from robotic-assisted surgery include:
Inner lip, tongue, floor of mouth, gums and roof of mouth
Nasal cavities and the upper part of the throat
Soft palate, base of tongue and tonsils
Sinuses, wall of pharynx and where larynx and esophagus meet
Voice box and vocal cords
Studies show that outcomes of transoral robotic surgery result in swallowing and speech functions that are often better than other surgical methods, but without invasive scars.
Transoral robotic surgery is also less likely to adversely affect breathing and sense of taste than traditional surgery. Most patients are able to resume eating solid foods quickly after surgery, and hospital stays are significantly reduced.