Indications and contraindications to transoral thyroidectomy

Christopher R. Razavi, Jonathon O. Russell


Patient motivation to avoid neck scarring has been a strong impetus in the development of remote access approaches to the thyroid, including transoral robotic or endoscopic thyroidectomy vestibular approach (TOR/ETVA). TOR/ETVA continues to become more prevalent given its early success in North America and the demonstration of its safety and efficacy in Asia. As more surgeons perform this procedure, it is important that specific and uniform indications and contraindications exist to prevent surgical complications due to poor patient selection. In this article, we review the existing English literature regarding TOR/ETVA and compile the inclusion and exclusion criteria of individual authors for both robotic and endoscopic techniques to date. We then resolve differences in the existing literature to provide recommended indications and contraindications to TOR/ETVA based on both our review and our own experience with TOR/ETVA to date. The following are our resultant recommended indications for TOR/ETVA: patient history of hypertrophic scarring or motivation to avoid a cervical neck incision with a maximal thyroid diameter ≤10 cm and dominant nodule ≤6 cm, with one of the following pathologic criteria; benign lesion, multinodular goiter, indeterminate nodule, or suspicious lesions/well-differentiated thyroid carcinomas ≤2 cm. Recommended contraindications to TOR/ETVA are as follows: history of head & neck surgery, history of head, neck, or upper mediastinal irradiation, inability to tolerate general anesthesia, evidence of clinical hyperthyroidism, preoperative recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy, lymph node metastasis, extrathyroidal extension including tracheal or esophageal invasion, oral abscesses, substernal thyroidal extension, or failure to meet inclusion criteria as above. Relative contraindications include smoking and other oral pathology, and surgeons should be aware that morbid obesity may make it difficult to raise skin flaps.