Remote-access thyroid and parathyroid surgery has gained popularity recently due to its benefit of avoiding visible neck scars. Most of these techniques were described and performed in Asia, on patients with different body habitus compared to American patients. We aim to analyze the learning curve in performing these operations in North America. .
This is a retrospective cohort study of a 10-year experience by a single surgeon at a North American institute. Patients who underwent thyroid or parathyroid procedures by a transaxillary, retroauricular, or transoral endoscopic thyroidectomy vestibular approach (TOETVA) were included. Cumulative sum (CUSUM) was used to analyze learning curves based on intraoperative blood loss and total operative times and learning phases were divided accordingly.
Three hundred seventy-two remote-access thyroid and parathyroid procedures were performed during the study period. Total operative time for transaxillary procedures was initially reduced after the 69th procedure and then again after the 134th case. For retroauricular procedures, marked reduction in the operative time was observed after 21 procedures. Most patients (57.02%) were discharged home on the same day during the mastering phase. In the transaxillary procedures, only 1 case of brachial plexus injury occurred prior to the routine use of somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) monitoring.
Remote-access thyroid and parathyroid surgeries can be performed safely with minimal complications in a select group of patients. Analysis of the learning curve in performing these operations aids in structuring a safe and effective learning period for endocrine surgeons seeking to venture into this modality of treatment.