Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 850–861 | Cite as

A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Comparing Surgically-Related Complications between Robotic-Assisted Thyroidectomy and Conventional Open Thyroidectomy

  • Brian Hung-Hin LangEmail author
  • Carlos K. H. Wong
  • Julian Shun Tsang
  • Kai Pun Wong
  • Koon Yat Wan
Endocrine Tumors



Despite gaining popularity, robotic-assisted thyroidectomy (RT) remains controversial. This systematic review and meta-analysis is aimed at comparing surgically-related complications between RT and conventional open thyroidectomy (OT).


A systematic review of the literature was performed to identify studies comparing surgically-related outcomes between RT and OT. Studies that compared ≥1 surgically-related outcomes between RT and OT were included. Outcomes included operating time, blood loss, complications, and hospital stay. Meta-analysis was performed using a fixed-effects model.


Eleven studies were eligible but none were randomized controlled trials. Of the 2,375 patients, 839 (35.3 %) underwent RT, while 1,536 (64.7 %) underwent OT. RT was significantly associated with longer operating time (p < 0.001), hospital stay (p = 0.023) and higher temporary recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury (p = 0.016). Although there was no correlation between the number of RTs reported in the study and the rate of temporary RLN injury (p = −0.486, p = 0.328, respectively), routine perioperative laryngoscopy was performed in only 2 of 11 studies. Blood loss (p = 0.485), temporary (p = 0.333) and permanent (p = 0.599) hypocalcemia, hematoma (p = 0.602), and overall morbidity (p = 0.880) appeared comparable. Two (0.2 %) brachial plexus injuries in RT were reported in one study.


Relative to OT, RT was associated with significantly longer operating time, longer hospital stay, and higher temporary RLN injury rate but comparable permanent complications and overall morbidity. Given some of the limitations with the literature and the potential added surgical risks and morbidity in RT, application of the robot in thyroid surgery should be carefully and thoroughly discussed before one decides on the procedure.


Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Total Thyroidectomy Standardize Mean Difference Longe Operating Time Brachial Plexus Injury 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.




Competing interests

Brian Hung-Hin Lang, Carlos K. H. Wong, Julian Shun Tsang, Kai Pun Wong, Koon Yat Wan declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Hung-Hin Lang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carlos K. H. Wong
    • 3
  • Julian Shun Tsang
    • 2
  • Kai Pun Wong
    • 2
  • Koon Yat Wan
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Endocrine Surgery, Department of SurgeryQueen Mary HospitalHong Kong SARChina
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine and Primary CareThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina
  4. 4.Department of Clinical OncologyThe University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina

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