Head and Neck Oncology

Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1439-1446

First online:

Comparison of Endoscopic and Robotic Thyroidectomy

  • J. LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Ajou University School of Medicine
  • , J. H. LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Ajou University School of Medicine
  • , K. Y. NahAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Ajou University School of Medicine
  • , E. Y. SohAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Ajou University School of Medicine
  • , W. Y. ChungAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Yonsei University College of Medicine Email author 

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Endoscopic thyroidectomy is a technically challenging procedure. Robot-assisted thyroidectomy has been recently introduced and offers improved visualization and dexterity. The present study compared conventional endoscopic and robotic thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer patients in terms of perioperative outcomes and learning curve. All operations were performed by the same surgeon.

Materials and Methods

Between April 2007 and March 2010, 96 patients underwent endoscopic thyroidectomy (endoscopy group) and 163 patients underwent robotic thyroidectomy (robot group). A gasless transaxillary approach was used in both groups. The 2 groups were compared in terms of patient characteristics, perioperative clinical results, complications, and pathologic details. Learning curves for the 2 procedures were compared based on the number of cases required to reach a consistent operation time.


Patient characteristics were similar for both groups. The mean total operation time for thyroidectomy with central compartment neck dissection was 142.7 ± 52.1 min in the endoscopy group and 110.1 ± 50.7 min in the robot group (P = .041). Both patient groups were similar in terms of pathological features including TNM stage, intraoperative blood loss, length of hospital stay, and complication rate. However, the mean number of retrieved central lymph nodes was 2.4 ± 1.9 for the endoscopy group and 4.5 ± 1.5 for the robot group (P = .004). The learning curve was 55–60 cases for endoscopic thyroidectomy and 35–40 cases for robotic thyroidectomy.


Robotic thyroidectomy was found to be superior to endoscopic thyroidectomy in terms of operation time, lymph node retrieval, and learning curve. Complication rates and postoperative hospital stay were similar for the 2 procedures.