Background: Transoral CO2 laser surgery for selected supraglottic tumors results in improved postoperative function and decreased morbidity, with comparable survival to open surgery. Recently, robot-assisted techniques have been reported for the management of supraglottic lesions. There are no reports in the English literature of robotic technology coupled with CO2 laser technology. Our objective was to report the use of such technology.
Study design: Experimental resection of the supraglottis in a cadaver and a dog model using a commercially available surgical robot coupled with CO2 laser technology. Initial human experience with such technology is reported.
Methods: With use of a hollow core fiber that allows the transmission of CO2 laser energy linked to the daVinci Surgical Robot, a supraglottic laryngectomy was performed in an edentulous female cadaver. The FK Laryngo-Pharyngoscope was used for exposure. In a second experiment, a supraglottic partial laryngectomy was performed in an 80 pound dog. On the basis of our experimental experience, a CO2 laser robotic-assisted supraglottic laryngectomy was attempted in three patients.
Results: Removal of the supraglottic larynx in both a cadaver and canine experimental models was believed to be satisfactory using this technology. Bleeding was easily controlled in the live canine model. A 74-year-old woman with a large supraglottic mass for which she had been offered a total laryngectomy was resected successfully with this technology. The FK Laryngo-Pharyngoscope provided excellent exposure. The patient was able to swallow without difficulty on postoperative day 5. Follow-up endoscopic examination at 1 month showed no evidence of residual laryngeal tumor. Robot-assisted procedures were attempted in two additional patients, but adequate exposure could not be achieved, and more traditional techniques were performed.
Conclusions: The use of the daVinci Surgical robot coupled with CO2 laser technology is feasible, as demonstrated by our experimental and clinical data. Although further development of the robotic technology is required at present, the use of robotics coupled with CO2 laser technology may have important implications in the management of supraglottic laryngeal cancer in the future.