Robot-Assisted Endocrine Surgery: Indications and Drawbacks

J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2019 Feb;29(2):129-135. doi: 10.1089/lap.2018.0308. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


Background: Over the last few decades, robotic surgery with the da Vinci system has become increasingly prevalent. Endocrine surgeons are witnessing a rapid growth in enthusiasm for robotic approaches for treating thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal disease. For carefully selected patients, the robotic system may be the preferred technique, although its use remains controversial and indications are in evolution. The goal of this article is to review current robotic procedures for thyroidectomy, parathyroidectomy, and adrenalectomy, and scrutinize the existing literature for application of these approaches.

Methods: We systematically searched and reviewed relevant articles on PubMed and MEDLINE databases for robotic or robot-assisted thyroidectomy, parathyroidectomy, or adrenalectomy.

Results: The safety and feasibility for robotic thyroidectomy, parathyroidectomy, and adrenalectomy have been repeatedly demonstrated. Although robotic thyroid and parathyroid surgery offers better cosmetic results compared to the conventional open operation, remote-access techniques introduce new risks. Similar outcomes have been reported for laparoscopic and robotic adrenalectomy, but robot-assisted techniques may extend the capabilities of minimally invasive surgery, particularly performing subtotal adrenalectomy.

Conclusions: While robotic procedures offer better ergonomics for the endocrine surgeon and improved cosmesis for the patient, the major drawback to the robot system almost universally is the higher cost. With new robotically assisted surgical devices on the way that could drive down costs and speed up innovation, the indications for robotic endocrine surgery may greatly expand.

Keywords: robotic adrenalectomy; robotic parathyroidectomy; robotic thyroidectomy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenalectomy / adverse effects
  • Adrenalectomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / adverse effects
  • Laparoscopy / methods*
  • Parathyroidectomy / adverse effects
  • Parathyroidectomy / methods*
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / economics
  • Thyroidectomy / adverse effects
  • Thyroidectomy / methods*