Endocrine surgical technique: endoscopic thyroidectomy via the lateral approach
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Minimal access approaches are increasingly used in endocrine surgery. Several minimal access approaches to the thyroid gland have been described, including a small-incision lateral approach and a video-assisted central approach, but to date no technique has been universally accepted.
Benefiting from the experience of more than 500 endoscopic parathyroidectomies via a lateral neck approach, the authors developed an endoscopic thyroidectomy based on the same approach and principles. Patients with solitary nodules smaller than 3 cm in diameter and no history of neck surgery or irradiation were offered this operation. A detailed description of the surgical technique is provided.
Of the 742 thyroidectomies performed in 2004, 38 (5.1%) were endoscopic thyroidectomies. The mean nodule size was 22-mm (range, 7–47-mm), and the mean operating time was 99 min (range, 64–150-min). In all cases, the recurrent laryngeal nerve was preserved intact, and the superior and inferior parathyroids were identified, respectively, in 36 and 33 of the 38 patients. Two patients required conversion to an open cervicotomy. All patients were discharged the day after surgery.
The described endoscopic lateral approach combines the coherence of the minimal access lateral approach and the benefits of fiberoptic magnification. It is a safe and effective technique in the hands of an appropriately trained surgeon.