|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 8-11
Minimally invasive retroauricular approaches to the neck: A paradigm shift
Priyanko Chakraborty, Pattatheyil Arun, Kapila Manikantan, Jain Prateek Vijay, Rajeev Sharan
Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Tata Medical Center, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
|Date of Submission||06-Feb-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||28-Apr-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||18-Jun-2020|
Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Tata Medical Center, 14 Mar E-W, DH Block (New Town), Action Area I, New Town, Kolkata - 700 160, West Bengal
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Introduction: The conventional approach for surgery of the thyroid and neck is performed through an open transcervical incision. Endoscopic and robotic neck surgery via retroauricular approach is a viable cosmetic alternative with improved functional outcomes. Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of patients who underwent endoscopic or robotic assisted neck surgeries from September 2016 to December 2019 at a tertiary cancer center in Eastern India. Results: A total of 54 patients were operated by the retroauricular approach. We encountered minimal complications and better cosmetic results compared to the standard open approach. A significant reduction in operative time over the course of the study was observed, signifying an easier learning curve. Conclusion: Retroauricular approach is a feasible cosmetic minimally invasive approach to neck surgeries with satisfactory functional outcomes, which may be implemented in developing country like ours where cosmesis is rapidly gaining popularity.
Keywords: Endoscopic neck dissection, endoscopic thyroidectomy, minimally invasive neck surgery, retroauricular approach, robotic neck dissection, robotic thyroidectomy
|How to cite this article:|
Chakraborty P, Arun P, Manikantan K, Vijay JP, Sharan R. Minimally invasive retroauricular approaches to the neck: A paradigm shift. J Head Neck Physicians Surg 2020;8:8-11
|How to cite this URL:|
Chakraborty P, Arun P, Manikantan K, Vijay JP, Sharan R. Minimally invasive retroauricular approaches to the neck: A paradigm shift. J Head Neck Physicians Surg [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Mar 5];8:8-11. Available from: https://www.jhnps.org/text.asp?2020/8/1/8/287158
| Introduction|| |
The conventional approach for surgery of the thyroid and neck is performed through an open transcervical incision. However, these often lead to prominent surgical scars in the neck. Multitude of minimally invasive procedures have been introduced and successfully practiced across the globe in many centers in an attempt to improve the cosmetic outcomes. Moreover, the conventional techniques require more tissue handling and dissection which adds up to morbidity and increased recovery period.
Endoscopic and robotic surgeries via retroauricular approach are promising techniques that have improved cosmetic as well as functional outcomes along with a reduction in morbidity.
Widespread surgical implementation of retroauricular minimally invasive approach is mainly limited due to the lack of evidence on feasibility, oncologic outcome, and technical expertise. With every technical advancement, financial issues also come as a hindrance, as is the case with robotic surgery which entails the need for a surgical robot system. However, the application of endoscopic neck surgeries is a good economically viable alternative via the same approach. Reduction in cosmetic and functional morbidity is a significant factor in promoting the retroauricular approach.,
| Materials and Methods|| |
A total of 54 patients who underwent neck surgeries by minimally invasive retroauricular approach at Tata Medical Center, Kolkata, from September 2016 to December 2019 were included in this study. Da Vinci Si (Intuitive Surgical) system was used for robotic assisted neck surgeries, and laparoscopic instruments with the harmonic system were used for endoscopic neck surgeries. Written informed consent was obtained from all patients. The patients were followed up for at least 6 weeks postoperative and all are still under follow-up.
We followed the retroauricular approach as first devised by Koh et al. of Yonsei Medical Center, Seoul.,, A retroauricular incision with extension 1 cm inside the hairline is made [Figure 1]; subplatysmal skin flap is raised to expose the target location. The spinal accessory nerve is identified, and Level IIb dissection is completed with headlight and conventional instruments in case of neck dissection. Following this, a modified Chung retractor is used as a self-retaining retractor to hold the skin flap [Figure 2], endoscope or surgical robot is then used to dissect the Levels Ib and Ia, then finally, Level IIa to level IV is dissected in case of neck dissection [Figure 3]. For thyroidectomy, the modified Chung retractor is applied after raising subplatysmal skin flap and thyroid is exposed after retracting strap muscle. Bilateral approach was used for total thyroidectomy.
| Results|| |
During the duration of the study, a total of 54 cases were operated via minimally invasive retroauricular approach, of these 18 were endoscopic and 36 were robotic. [Table 1] shows distribution of the cases.
Thyroidectomy and selective neck dissections were by far the most common surgeries done in both endoscopic and robotic techniques. In addition, submandibular gland excision, parotidectomy with neck dissection, and excision of nerve sheath tumor were also done successfully.
The youngest patient who was operated by retroauricular approach was of 13 years age and the oldest 63 years with a mean age of 39.17 years, signifying the importance of cosmesis even in the elderly.
The patients had short hospital stay (the mean hospital stay was 4.79 days), and all the patients were highly satisfied with the resultant cosmetic scar [Figure 4].
|Figure 4: Cosmetic scarless neck after robotic thyroidectomy (noticeable lump in the left lobe in preoperative image)|
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As expected, the complications encountered were very minimal as detailed in [Table 2]. Seven patients of neck dissection had temporary marginal nerve paresis, and in all, function improved after 2–3 month postoperative period. One patient of thyroidectomy had hoarseness of voice, confirmed on laryngoscopy, and improved after 2 months. Only two cases were converted to open on-table of which one was due to uncontrolled bleeding, while the other due to difficulty in maneuvering because of tumor size and location. The other complications which were identified include hypertrophic scars, neck muscle stiffness, and collection. Four patients had marginal necrosis of skin flap and two required secondary resuturing. Only one patient had serous collection and infection, managed with aspiration and antibiotics.
Retroauricular robotic surgery has a significant learning curve, but it is well mastered with sufficient practice, and the surgical time or the console time was serially less in subsequent cases. As shown in [Figure 5], the curve shows a decreasing trend of console time of robotic neck dissection cases showing the importance of learning curve.
| Discussion|| |
Use of robotics in surgical and clinical applications was first described in 1985 which led to increased dexterity, accuracy, illumination, magnification, and hemostasis in difficult to access areas. The first endoscopic minimal access procedure in head-and-neck surgery was described by Gagner in 1997 for a parathyroid excision.
Retroauricular approach was first described by Koh et al. at Seoul. Endoscopic or robotic access to neck traditionally was described via transaxillary approach through which it was difficult to reach Level I and II nodes which are of prime importance in oral cancers. Being in a familiar area for head-and-neck surgeons, the retroauricular approach is a feasible access to neck surgeries. It also minimizes lots of drawbacks associated with the traditional transaxillary approach including reduction in tissue handling by reducing dissecting distance from the operative site.
Retroauricular approach is cosmetically more pleasing as the scar is well hidden behind the pinna and merges within the hairline and gets rid of the unsightly long neck scar which is often associated with scar hypertrophy and keloid formation in the Indian population.,,,
Endoscopic assisted neck surgeries have the limitations of reduced range of motion, a two-dimensional (2D) view with absence of depth perception, reduced hand–eye coordination, and tactile feedback and a steep learning curve. The advantages of robotic surgical system are 3D binocular vision with depth perception, motion scaling, filtration of tremor, 7 degrees of freedom with articulated movements with wrists, a shallower learning curve, better ergonomics, and excellent dexterity. However, endoscopy fares better in term of cost-effectiveness and redundancy of sophisticated instrumentation.,,
Our analysis shows the importance of cosmesis which is not limited to younger age group as quite a few elderly also opted for minimally invasive surgery. The retroauricular approach offers excellent cosmesis with a hidden scar in the postauricular hairline,,, in case of wound dehiscence or infection, there is zero risk of exposed major vessels, thus reducing the risk of catastrophic blowouts, and there is also reduction of skin lymphedema due to lesser damage to lymphatic channels.,
Complications as already mentioned in results are comparable to complications in other studies; however, wound contracture was not observed. Operation time remains a critical limiting phenomenon in retroauricular approach due to time-consuming flap elevation; it is notable that in our series, there is a significant reduction in operating time with increase in experience.,
| Conclusion|| |
Retroauricular approach is a feasible cosmetic minimally invasive approach to neck surgeries with very satisfactory functional outcome. This may be implemented in a developing country like ours where issues of cosmesis have begun to dominate the discussion whenever surgery is offered to patients.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
This material has never been published and is not currently under evaluation in any other peer reviewed publication.
The permission was taken from Institutional Ethics Committee prior to starting the project. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]
[Table 1], [Table 2]