Minimally invasive techniques for head and neck malignancies: current indications, outcomes and future directions

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Sep;268(9):1249-57. doi: 10.1007/s00405-011-1620-0. Epub 2011 May 12.


The trend toward minimally invasive surgery, appropriately applied, has evolved over the past three decades to encompass all fields of surgery, including curative intent cancer surgery of the head and neck. Proper patient and tumor selection are fundamental to optimizing oncological and functional outcomes in such a personalized approach to cancer treatment. Training, experience, and appropriate technological equipment are prerequisites for any type of minimally invasive surgery. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of currently available techniques and the evidence justifying their use. Much evidence is in favor of routine use of transoral laser resection, transoral robot-assisted surgery, transnasal endoscopic resection, sentinel node biopsy, and endoscopic neck surgery for selected malignant tumors, by experienced surgical teams. Technological advances will enhance the scope of this type of surgery in the future and physicians need to be aware of the current applications and trends.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Laser Therapy / trends
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymph Nodes / surgery
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / methods
  • Microsurgery / trends
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / trends
  • Mouth / surgery
  • Natural Orifice Endoscopic Surgery / methods*
  • Natural Orifice Endoscopic Surgery / trends
  • Neck Dissection / methods
  • Neck Dissection / trends
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Robotics / methods*
  • Robotics / trends
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome