U of M offering thyroid surgery with no neck scar

9:00 PM, Aug 2, 2011   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Previously, Minnesotans with thyroid issues who had surgery were left with a scar on the front of their neck. Now there's another option.

Look under her arm and you'll see Judy Storeguard's surgical scar. "It's tucked right in there and you don't even see it," she said.

Storeguard, of Princeton, had part of her thyroid removed this past winter after doctors found a cyst. They removed that cyst and half of her thyroid through an incision under her arm.

Happy to show off her neck, Storeguard said, "It's nice to be able to wear pretty jewelry and not have to worry about the scarring."

Doctors at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, like surgical oncologist Dr. Maria Evasovich, are now offering robotic thyroidectomies through an incision under the arm for those with thyroid cancer and other thyroid issues.

"We started this in February so we're the first in the Twin Cities to do it and one of the first in the Midwest," Dr. Evasovich said.

The route to the thyroid may not seem as direct as through the neck.

"It seems as if it's a larger distance, but the way we position the patient it is actually only a distance of [about four inches] that you create a tunnel that we put the robotic arm or the robotic equipment in," she added.

Dr. Evasovich believes robotic thyroidectomies are more precise than hands-on surgery. During the procedure, surgeons sit at a station 10 feet away from the patient and use computer-aided robotics to guide the robotic arms.

"The time frame of the surgery is a little longer; about 30 minutes more," Dr. Evasovich said. She added there may be a bit more discomfort for some patients and there's an overnight stay, but she believes because of its precision and the fact there is no visible scar, it will soon become the surgery of choice for thyroidectomies.

Dr. Evasovich said five robotic thyroidectomies have been done so far at the U of M Medical Center and said it is covered by insurance

Storeguard is happy with her results and is happy no one will be staring at a scar on her neck.

"This way, nobody knows anything unless I tell them, which everyone will know now," Storeguard laughed.



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