In our pursuit of advancing cancer surgery, we became the first academic medical center on the West Coast to offer transoral robotic surgery (TORS) following U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, which allows for a minimally invasive approach that gives the surgeon enhanced dexterity and greater precision in tumor removal. This results in reduced pain and discomfort, reduced risk of infection and minimal scarring.
TORS is most commonly used for patients with tumors at the base of the tongue or throat. The traditional surgery for cancer of this nature requires a large incision and has significant drawbacks, including a long recovery and risk of infection. TORS allows our physicians to perform delicate, complex procedures through the mouth. With the help of the da Vinci® robot, physicians have 3-D imaging of the tumor and two-handed, wristed dexterity allowing them to easily maneuver within the contours of the mouth and throat. Usually, chemotherapy can be avoided and lower doses of radiation are needed, which leads to shorter recovery times and improved functional outcomes, particularly the ability to swallow.
Often, our patients are able to avoid reconstructive surgery altogether.