Subxyphoid thyroidectomy: a feasibility study

Surg Innov. 2014 Apr;21(2):194-7. doi: 10.1177/1553350613497431. Epub 2013 Jul 30.


Objective: The cultural desire to avoid cervical incisions and increasing concern for cosmetic outcomes has motivated surgeons to develop alternative approaches to thyroid surgery. The Direct Drive Endoscopic System (DDES) platform combines a flexible endoscope with a pair of separately controlled articulating instruments through a single, flexible, access system. We hypothesized that the DDES platform would permit single-incision minimally invasive thyroid lobectomy without robotic assistance.

Methods: This is a single-cadaver feasibility study. A single, 2.2-cm subxyphoid incision was used for access. The platform's 55-cm flexible sheath was secured to the operating table rails and introduced into the subcutaneous space. A flexible pediatric endoscope was simultaneously introduced with 2 interchangeable 4-mm instruments. Blunt dissection and electrocautery were used to create the tunnel in the otherwise free central plane. The thyroid was dissected using a superior to inferior technique while maintaining the critical steps of traditional thyroid surgery. A Veress needle introduced through the lateral neck provided additional retraction.

Results: The total operating time was 2.5 hours. The subcutaneous tunnel was safe and accommodated the DDES well. Visualization was adequate. Graspers, scissors, and hook cautery were used to complete the lobectomy. The ergonomics, articulation, and strength of the instrumentation were sufficient.

Conclusions: Subxyphoid thyroidectomy is technically possible and avoids the difficulties inherent to a transaxillary approach while still avoiding cosmetically unappealing cervical scars. Continued technological refinement will only expand the therapeutic possibilities of flexible endoscopy while minimizing the physical insult to patients and maximizing aesthetics for patients.

Keywords: SILS/single site surgery; endocrine surgery; flexible endoscopy; image-guided surgery; thyroid surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Endoscopy / instrumentation
  • Endoscopy / methods
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Thyroidectomy / instrumentation*
  • Thyroidectomy / methods*
  • Xiphoid Bone / surgery