Successful Treatment of Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma with Transaxillary Robotic Surgery and Radioiodine: The First European Experience

Eur Thyroid J. 2018 Jun;7(3):149-154. doi: 10.1159/000487234. Epub 2018 Feb 21.


Objectives: Transaxillary robotic thyroidectomy surgery (TARS) has been reported to be a safe approach in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma, and oncological responses are promising.

Study design: This study aimed to evaluate the oncological outcomes of TARS followed by radioiodine (RAI) therapy in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma. Between 2011 and 2016, patients treated for differentiated thyroid carcinoma by TARS in a single institution, followed by RAI, were retrospectively included. The oncological response was performed according to the 2015 American Thyroid Association (ATA) guidelines 6-12 months later and at the last available visit.

Results: A total of 42 patients (30 females) were included, with a median tumor size of 20 mm (12 cases of N1a and 5 cases of N1b on initial pathology report). According to ATA classification of recurrence risk after surgery, 17 and 25 patients were classified as low and intermediate risk, respectively. After RAI, all patients had a normal posttherapeutic whole body scan (except 1 patient, who had pathological lymph node uptake), but no unusual uptake was seen. At the 6- to 12-month evaluation (n = 37), 24 patients had excellent response, 8 had indeterminate response, and 5 had incomplete response (2 biological and 3 structural); no distant metastasis was found. At the last evaluation (median follow-up 15.9 months), 35 patients had no evidence of disease and 1 patient had a structural incomplete response. In total, a second open surgery was necessary for 3 patients to treat persistent lymph nodes (all intermediate risk).

Conclusion: In this study, TARS followed by RAI therapy seems to be curative, even for patients with lymph node metastases, after good preoperative staging. More studies are required to confirm the findings.

Keywords: Cancer; Differentiated thyroid cancer; Oncological evaluation; Papillary thyroid carcinoma; Quality of life; Radioiodine ablation; Radioiodine therapy; Robotic surgery; Surgery; Thyroid cancer.