Objective: To evaluate the possibility, complications, and efficacy of endoscopic neck dissection (END) in a porcine model.
Design: Experimental self-controlled study.
Intervention: Endoscopic neck dissection was performed using general anesthesia with techniques adapted from laparoscopic surgery. The tissue specimens removed were divided according to porcine equivalents of human neck groups. After the completion of END, open-neck dissection was performed using standard surgical techniques, and the remaining tissue within each neck group was retrieved. A pathologist evaluated each specimen without knowing its exact origin in terms of neck group or side and the type of surgical technique used. For each specimen, the number of retrieved lymph nodes and their anatomical integrity were analyzed.
Results: Ten neck dissections were performed in 8 minipigs without any major complications. The number of retrieved lymph nodes by END was 18.4 +/- 7.4 (mean +/- SD). Completed open-neck dissection retrieved an additional 3.3 +/- 1.8 lymph nodes. The efficacy rate of END was 88% +/- 10% (+/ -SD). The majority of retrieved lymph nodes were intact, with less than 5% of nodes exhibiting crushing artifacts.
Conclusions: Endoscopic neck dissection in a porcine model seems to be free of major complications and able to retrieve the majority of neck lymph nodes. A larger number of animals and their survival need to be studied before human studies can begin.