Robotic-assisted parathyroidectomy via transaxillary approach: feasibility and learning curves

Gland Surg. 2021 Mar;10(3):953-960. doi: 10.21037/gs-20-761.


Background: There have been few reports of robotic-assisted transaxillary parathyroidectomy in the literature. We aim to report our experience with robotic-assisted transaxillary parathyroidectomy for primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) in the Western population.

Methods: A retrospective study was performed from July 2010 through July 2019 at two institutions, one in the United States and one in France. Demographic characteristics and perioperative data were collected for all patients undergoing robotic-assisted transaxillary parathyroidectomy by a single surgeon at each institution. A linear regression model was developed to describe the learning curve for this procedure at each institution.

Results: One-hundred and two patients with PHPT were included with a median age of 55.6±12.4 years and median body mass index (BMI) of 25.5±6.1 kg/m2. The majority of patients were female (80.4%). Median total operative time was 116±53 minutes. Minor complications were reported in 2 patients (1.96%), and one case was converted to a trans-cervical approach (TCA) for four-gland exploration. Median patient follow-up time was 6.5±12.2 months, and disease recurrence was reported in one patient. Calculated learning curves showed that one surgeon achieved proficiency by the eighth case, and the other achieved proficiency by the fourteenth case.

Conclusions: This is the largest reported experience of robotic-assisted transaxillary parathyroidectomy for PHPT in the Asian and Western population. Analysis of the procedural learning curve demonstrates that proficiency in this technique was achieved after performance of less than 15 surgeries. This procedure is safe and feasible in the hands of experienced surgeons for select patients with localized disease.

Keywords: Hyperparathyroidism; parathyroid adenoma; parathyroidectomy; robotic parathyroidectomy; transaxillary parathyroidectomy.