Background: Since the first description of the minimally invasive totally gasless video-assisted thyroidectomy (MIVAT) technique in 1998, relatively few studies have evaluated the outcome of this procedure. The authors review their experiences based on a prospective randomized trial comparing the potential advantages of MIVAT over conventional thyroidectomy.
Methods: Patients undergoing surgery for either thyroid nodule or diffuse thyroid disease with hyperthyroidism were randomly selected for either MIVAT or conventional thyroidectomy. The exclusion criteria specified nodules larger than 35 mm, thyroid lobe volume greater than 20 ml, thyroiditis, and previous neck irradiation or surgery. Operative time, postoperative complications, and cosmetic results were evaluated using both a verbal response scale and a numeric scale.
Results: Both the MIVAT group and the conventional thyroidectomy group included 15 patients. No significant differences were noted between the two groups in terms of age, sex, or indication for operation. The mean operative times were 65.5 +/- 18 min. for MIVAT and 43.3 +/- 14 min. for conventional thyroidectomy (P = 0.001). No postoperative complications were detected in either group. The cosmetic results, evaluated by both verbal response and numeric scales, were respectively as follows: MIVAT (3.7 +/- 0.2 and 7.9 +/- 1.2) and conventional thyroidectomy (2.3 +/- 0.7 and 4.9 +/- 1.3). The differences significantly favored MIVAT (P = 0.028 and P = 0.015, respectively) despite the small number of patients enrolled in this study, and consequently, its limited statistical power.
Conclusion: Although the complications are comparable between the two approaches, conventional thyroidectomy involves less operative time. However, MIVAT offers distinct advantages to selected patients in terms of very good to exellent cosmetic results and reduced postoperative distress.