Functional outcomes after transoral robotic surgery for head and neck cancer

Academic Article


  • Objective: To evaluate functional outcomes following transoral robotic surgery for head and neck cancer. Study Design: Case series with planned data collection. Setting: Academic hospital. Subjects and Methods: Between March 2007 and December 2008, 54 of 62 candidate patients underwent transoral robotic tumor resection. Outcomes include airway management, swallowing (MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory), and enterogastric feeding. Results: Tumors were most commonly oropharynx (61%) or larynx (22%) and T1 (35%) or T2 (44%). Many received radiotherapy (22% preoperatively, 41% postoperatively) and chemotherapy (31%). Endotracheal intubation was retained (22%) for up to 48 hours, tracheostomy less frequently (9%), and all were decannulated by 14 days. Most commenced oral intake prior to discharge (69%) or within two weeks (83%). A worse postoperative Dysphagia Inventory score was associated with retained feeding tube (P = 0.020), age >60 (P = 0.017), higher T stage (P = 0.009), laryngeal site (P = 0.017), and complications (P = 0.035). At a mean 12 months' follow-up, 17 percent retained a feeding tube (9.5% among primary cases). Retained feeding tube was associated with preoperative tube requirement (P = 0.017), higher T stage (P = 0.043), oropharyngeal/laryngeal site (P = 0.034), and recurrent/second primary tumor (P = 0.008). Complications including airway edema (9%), aspiration (6%), bleeding (6%), and salivary fistula (2%) were managed without major sequelae. Conclusion: Transoral robotic surgery provides an emerging alternative for selected primary and salvage head and neck tumors with low morbidity and acceptable functional outcomes. Patients with advanced T stage, laryngeal or oropharyngeal site, and preoperative enterogastric feeding may be at increased risk of enterogastric feeding and poor swallowing outcomes. © 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Iseli TA; Kulbersh BD; Iseli CE; Carroll WR; Rosenthal EL; Magnuson JS
  • Start Page

  • 166
  • End Page

  • 171
  • Volume

  • 141
  • Issue

  • 2