Conference Coverage

Robotic thyroidectomy outcomes better in high-volume centers

Key clinical point: Robotic thyroid surgery performed by higher-volume surgeons is associated with lower complications and shorter hospital stays.

Major finding: Compared with outpatients, inpatients had a significantly greater number of comorbidities (P < .001) and complications (P =.005). In addition, the highest-volume institution in the data set performed most of the outpatient cases and had a lower rate of complications.

Data source: A study of 484 patients from the University HealthSystem Consortium who underwent robotic thyroidectomy in the United States between 2009 and 2013.

Disclosures:Dr. Hinson reported having no financial disclosures.




CORONADO, CALIF. – Robotic thyroid surgery performed at the highest-volume center had a lower complication rate and shorter hospital stays than did the other hospitals in the study, results from a study of national data showed.

The Food and Drug Administration suspended its approval of robotic thyroidectomy in October 2011, citing risks and lack of adequate safety and outcomes research. The researchers observed a drop in the number of robotic thyroidectomies performed in the United States after the FDA issued its restriction in 2011. “That move appears to have made a pretty large impact on the projected growth of this procedure,” Dr. Hinson said at the annual meeting of the American Thyroid Association.

Dr. Andrew Hinson Doug Brunk/Frontline Medical News
Dr. Andrew Hinson

In Korea, where the procedure gained recognition in the early 2000s, “a lot of people cite cultural factors, such as aversion to neck scars, lean body habitus, and low body mass index make the procedure more feasible, so it’s a very popular approach there,” said Dr. Hinson, a research fellow at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock. In addition, until recently, there were financial incentives to do thyroid surgery with robotic assistance in the Korean health care system. “That said, in the United States, the cultural forces are distinct, our patients are larger and heavier on average, and most patients don’t have a strong aversion to a neck scar. The procedure is paid the same with or without the robot, but takes on average three times as long with the robot. Surgeons have such great results with open techniques that it’s very hard to make an argument that robotic surgery improves outcomes that much.”

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