Background: Open cervical parathyroidectomy is the standard of care for the treatment of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHP). However, in patients with a history of keloid or hypertrophic scar formation, the cosmetic result may sometimes be unsatisfactory. Furthermore, in the presence of mediastinal glands, a more morbid approach is sometimes necessary, involving a sternal split or thoracotomy. Robotic parathyroidectomy, either transaxillary or transthoracic, could be an alternative in both settings. Methods: Between 2008 and 2013, 14 patients with PHP and a well-localized single adenoma underwent robotic transaxillary cervical (TAC) (n = 8) or transthoracic mediastinal (TTM) (n = 6) parathyroidectomy at an academic tertiary medical center and their outcomes were analyzed. Results: All 14 operations were completed successfully as planned. For TAC and TTM parathyroidectomies, mean operative time was 184 and 168 min, respectively. With the exception of one TTM patient, intraoperative PTH determination indicated a >50 % drop in all patients 10 min after excision and no patients presented with recurrent disease on follow-up. Average length of hospital stay was 1 day after TAC parathyroidectomy and 2.2 days after TTM. On a visual analog pain scale (0-10), average pain scores after TAC were 6/10 on postoperative day 1 and 1/10 on day 14, compared to 7.7/10 and 1.5/10, respectively, after TTM. Complications included development of seroma in 1 patient in the TAC group and pericardial and pleural effusion in 1 patient in the TTM cohort. Conclusions: This initial study shows that robotic TAC and TTM parathyroidectomy are feasible in selected PHP patients with preoperatively well-localized disease. Although the TAC approach offers a potential cosmetic benefit in patients with a history of keloid or hypertrophic scar formation, a more generalized use cannot be recommended based on current evidence. The robotic TTM approach presents a minimally invasive alternative to resections previously performed through thoracotomy and sternotomy.
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