Ear Nose & Throat

Minimally Invasive Head, Neck and Thyroid Surgery: What’s New?

November 25, 2022

Dr Tay Hin Ngan, ENT Head and Neck Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, discusses technological advancements in ENT surgery that make procedures less invasive and support faster recovery

Minimally Invasive Head, Neck and Thyroid Surgery: What’s New?

Traditional surgery of the past

There was a time when, if you went in for ear, nose, throat, head or neck surgery, you would wake up with unsightly scars from the huge incisions your surgeon would have had to make to get to the hard-to-reach parts of that area of your anatomy. Incisions as long as 10cm were normal when removing large goiters in the treatment of a thyroid condition, for example. In some cases, surgery involved highly invasive approaches like splitting the jaw to gain the access the surgeon needed, and, as you can imagine, this could lead to further complications for the patient. A great deal of normal tissue, including the swallowing muscles and portions of the neck, would have to be cut through to get to the surgery site. You would be patched up with flesh and skin from places like the thigh. In cases of cancer, frequently, the procedures would be followed by radiation and chemotherapy together, increasing the risk of further complications.

Fast forward to today’s new techniques

Thanks to the advent of endoscopy and technology such as robotic arms, ENT surgery has become much less invasive when treating throat, oral and thyroid cancers and conditions.