Published: November 17, 2011
Through a partnership with Middle Tennessee Medical Center and Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, one local doctor has made great strides with robotic surgery.
Dr. William Gross has been on the forefront of using cutting edge medical technology to provide dramatic breakthrough solutions for patients seeking minimally invasive surgical solutions, according to an MMC news release.
In the past year, the otolaryngologist, or ENT, at MMC has teamed up with MTMC to perform the area’s first transoral robotic surgery for obstructive sleep apnea – a minimally invasive surgical solution.
More recently, MMC’s specialist teamed up with MTMC to perform the first transoral robotic resection of tongue base cancer using the da Vinci Surgical System.
“The da Vinci robotic surgery is an amazing breakthrough for our patients, and I am honored to be the first surgeon to use it in Murfreesboro for the tongue base cancer,” Gross said. “Because the robot can go where the human hand and eye can’t, we can drastically reduce the invasiveness of head, neck and throat surgeries.”
He explained that this minimally invasive procedure reduces recovery time and eliminates the need for debilitating procedures such as an external approach that would split or remove part of the jaw in order to access the throat.
Additionally, he said, it reduces extensive cosmetic and functional post-op problems.
In the past, patients with various cancers of the tongue base or tonsil were treated with major surgeries externally resulting in major cosmetic and functional complications, according to the news release.
In order to decrease the complications of treatment, chemoradiation therapy became the trend because it resulted in organ preservation in the throat.
But this treatment still has major short- and long-term complications, including dry mouth, aging of the carotid artery, and difficulty swallowing.
In the long term, 20 to 30 percent of these patients remain dependent on a feeding tube.
With the da Vinci robotic surgery, the cancer can be removed through the mouth and preserve the ability to speak and swallow.
Most of these patients will still need a lower post-op dose of radiation, but the cure rates are as good as or better than chemoradiation alone, and the functional outcomes are much better with almost 100 percent of patients maintaining the ability to speak and swallow normally.
This represents a major advance in the treatment of oropharyngeal (throat) cancer, which is becoming increasingly common in our society.
Most of the patients with oropharyngeal cancer will present with a neck mass as their first symptom.
The otolaryngolist will usually be the one to diagnose the primary tumor location in a patient with a neck mass.
For more information, visit mmclinic.com or call 615-893-4480.