Thunderbeat®: a new step forward in transoral surgery-systematic review of literature and our experience

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2023 Jul;280(7):3415-3425. doi: 10.1007/s00405-023-07944-8. Epub 2023 Apr 4.


Introduction: Minimally invasive surgery is today the main challenge of ENT surgeons who aim to achieve oncological radicality with less aesthetic and functional impact. This is the basis for the widespread transoral surgical techniques, as the Thunderbeat®.

Objective: To date, the use of Thunderbeat® in transoral surgery is still little known and widespread. So, this study analyzes, with a systematic review, current literature about the transoral use of Thunderbeat® and shows our case studies.

Methods: The research was carried out on Pubmed, Scopus, Web of Science and Cochrane databases using specific keywords. Then, a retrospective study was carried out on 10 patients who underwent transoral surgery by Thunderbeat® in our ENT Clinic. Both in our cases and in the systematic review the following parameters have been evaluated: treated anatomical site and subsite, histological diagnosis, type of surgery, duration of nasogastric tube and hospitalization, post-operative complications, tracheostomy, resection margin status.

Results: The review included 3 articles that described transoral use of Thunderbeat® for a total of 31 patients suffering from oropharyngeal, hypopharyngeal and/or laryngeal carcinoma. Nasogastric tube was removed after 21.5 days on average, temporary tracheostomy was performed in 6 patients. The main complications were: bleeding (12.90%) and pharyngocutaneous fistula (29.03%). Thunderbeat® shaft was 35 cm long and 5 mm large. Our case studies included 5 males and 5 females, mean age 64.4 ± 10.28, with oropharyngeal or supraglottic carcinoma, parapharyngeal pleomorphic adenoma and cavernous hemangioma of the tongue base. Temporary tracheostomy was performed in 8 patients. Free resection margins were achieved in all cases (100%). No peri-operative complications occurred. Nasogastric tube was removed after 5.3 ± 2 days on average. All patients were discharged without tracheal tube and NGT after 18.2 ± 4.72 days on average.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that Thunderbeat® has several advantages over other transoral surgical approaches, such as CO2 laser and robotic surgery, in terms of best combination of oncological and functional success, less post-operative complications and costs. So, it could represent a step forward in transoral surgery.

Keywords: Head and neck cancer; Head and neck surgery; Operative surgical procedures; Surgical instruments; Transoral surgery; Ultrasonic surgical procedures.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypopharynx / pathology
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Larynx* / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome