Practice patterns in transoral robotic surgery: results of an American head and neck society survey

J Robot Surg. 2023 Apr;17(2):549-556. doi: 10.1007/s11701-022-01448-z. Epub 2022 Aug 7.


To understand perioperative practices for transoral robotic surgery (TORS) among academic medical centers. An electronic cross-sectional survey was distributed to fellows and program directors participating in 49 American Head and Neck Society fellowships. Operative decisions, medical and swallowing management, and disposition planning were assessed. Thirty-eight responses were collected (77.6%). Twenty-three centers (60.5%) performed > 25 cases annually with the remainder performing fewer. The da Vinci Si was the most commonly used platform (n = 28, 73.7%). A majority of institutions advocated tailored resection to adequate margins (n = 27, 71.1%) over fixed subunit-based resection (n = 11, 28.9%). Most surgeons (n = 29, 76.3%) performed neck dissection concurrent with TORS, and 89.5% (n = 34) routinely ligated external carotid artery branches. A minority of institutions (n = 17, 45.9%) endorsed a standardized TORS care pathway. Antibiotic choices and duration varied, the most common choice being ampicillin/sulbactam (n = 21, 55.3%), and the most common duration being 24 h or less (n = 22, 57.9%). Multimodal analgesia was used at 36 centers (94.7%), steroids at 31 centers (81.6%), and pharmacologic venous thromboembolic prophylaxis at 29 centers (76.3%). Nasogastric feeding tubes were placed during surgery at 20 institutions (54.1%). Speech-language pathologists routinely performed postoperative swallow evaluations at 29 (78.4%) sites. Practice patterns are variable among institutions performing TORS. While certain surgical and postoperative practices were quite common, many institutions reported no standard TORS care pathway. Further understanding of the impact of individual practices on outcomes is necessary to develop evidence-based perioperative protocols for TORS.

Keywords: Enhanced recovery after surgery; Head and neck cancer; Oropharynx cancer; Transoral robotic surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Head
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Neck Dissection
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / methods
  • United States