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Robot-Assisted Transaxillary Thyroidectomy (RATT): A Series Appraisal of More than 250 Cases from Europe

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Robot-assisted transaxillary thyroidectomy (RATT) is widely accepted in Asian countries. However, concerns regarding the balance between its real advantages and safety and cost have been raised by North American authorities. In Europe, assessments have been limited by small numbers since now. The purpose here is to report a large European experience with RATT.


A retrospective analysis was conducted of 257 patients who underwent RATT for nodular disease between February 2012 and September 2016. Data collected included patient demographics, diagnosis, ultrasound-estimated mean thyroid volume and nodule size, type of resection, operative time, postoperative pain and morbidity, and the hospital length of stay. Pain was assessed by visual analog scale score 12 h postoperatively (on the first postoperative day, before discharge). Feasibility, effectiveness, and safety were the outcomes of interest. Follow-up of thyroid carcinoma patients was carried out measuring thyroglobulin levels and ultrasound examination (median follow-up 24 months (6–48 months)). First control after 12 months and successively once a year.


There were 253 women and 4 men, with a mean age of 37.3 years. Indications included benign disease in 116, papillary carcinoma in 56, and indeterminate nodule in 85. Mean thyroid volume was 16.8 mL, and nodule size was 25.3 mm. A hemithyroidectomy was performed in 138 patients and total thyroidectomy in 118. The mean operative time was 77.5 min for the former and 99.7 min for the latter. One conversion was required. Complications included transient hypoparathyroidism in 7/118 (total thyroidectomy) patients (5.9%), transient vocal fold palsy in 3/257 (1.1%), 1 delayed tracheal injury (0.4%), and 3 postoperative hematoma (1.1%). Mean visual analog scale score was 1.79, and the mean length of stay was 1.6 days for hemithyroidectomy and 1.9 days for total thyroidectomy.


RATT is safe and effective and could serve as a viable treatment modality in selected cases.

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Correspondence to Gabriele Materazzi.

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Materazzi, G., Fregoli, L., Papini, P. et al. Robot-Assisted Transaxillary Thyroidectomy (RATT): A Series Appraisal of More than 250 Cases from Europe. World J Surg 42, 1018–1023 (2018).

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