, Volume 31, Issue 12, pp 2302-2306
Date: 14 Jun 2007

Endoscopic Thyroidectomy for Thyroid Malignancies: Comparison with Conventional Open Thyroidectomy

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Endoscopic techniques have recently been applied to thyroid surgery. We developed the bilateral axillo-breast (BAB) approach for total thyroidectomy. The aims of this study were to evaluate the completeness of this approach for total thyroidectomy and to compare complications between endoscopic thyroidectomy and conventional open thyroidectomy.


We analyzed 198 patients who underwent open thyroidectomy and 103 patients who underwent endoscopic thyroidectomy for papillary thyroid microcarcinoma between January 2003 and June 2006 at Seoul National University Hospital. The postoperative thyroglobulin (TG) level was used to assess the completeness of the two methods. Complications such as hypocalcemia or vocal cord palsy were also evaluated.


The mean hospitalization period was 3.18 days following open thyroidectomy and 3.04 days after endoscopic thyroidectomy. The 3-month postoperative TG levels were <1.0 ng/ml in 90.4% of patients after open total thyroidectomy and in 88.9% following endoscopic total thyroidectomy. Transient hypocalcemia occurred in 17.7% and 25.2% of patients, respectively. Permanent hypocalcemia occurred in 4.5% and 1.0% of patients, respectively. Permanent vocal cord palsy frequencies were 0.5% and 0%, respectively. There were no significant differences in postoperative TG levels, hypocalcemia, or permanent vocal cord palsy. Transient vocal cord palsy occurred in 2.5% of patients after open thyroidectomy and in 25.2% after endoscopic thyroidectomy (p < 0.0001), but it disappeared within 3 months. Cosmetic results were excellent after endoscopic thyroidectomy.


The bilateral axillo-breast (BAB) approach for endoscopic thyroidectomy shows insignificant postoperative complications, except transient vocal cord palsy, as well as good cosmetic results. It is also a feasible method for total thyroidectomy. Therefore, the BAB approach for endoscopic total thyroidectomy can be the surgical treatment of choice for selected cases of thyroid cancer.