Objective: An increasing number of head and neck surgeons have begun using transoral robotic-assisted surgery. Our objective was to examine the postoperative bleeding complications we have encountered to determine risk factors and to discuss the topic of hemorrhage control.
Study design: Case series with chart review.
Methods: Medical records were reviewed in 147 consecutive patients undergoing transoral robotic-assisted surgery for any indication at one tertiary academic medical center between March 2007 and September 2011.
Results: Eleven of 147 (7.5%) patients undergoing transoral robotic-assisted surgery experienced some degree of postoperative hemorrhage, with 9 patients requiring reoperation for examination and/or control of bleeding. Bleeding occurred at a mean of 11.1 ± 9.2 days after initial operation. Eight of 11 (72%) patients who bled were on antithrombotic medication (anticoagulants or antiplatelet agents) for other medical comorbidities. The postoperative hemorrhage rate in patients taking antithrombotic medication (8/48 patients = 17%) was significantly higher than in those not taking antithrombotics (3/99 patients = 3%), P = .0057. While the bleeding rate in salvage surgery (3/29 = 10.3%) was slightly higher than in primary surgery (8/118 = 6.8%), this difference did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusion: Potential for postoperative bleeding in association with antithrombotic medications in patients undergoing transoral robotic-assisted surgery should be recognized. Various effective techniques for management of these patients without robotic assistance were demonstrated.
Keywords: TORS; head and neck cancer; oropharyngeal hemorrhage; postoperative hemorrhage; robotic surgery.