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New Thyroid Surgery Uses Smaller Incision

It's safe and speeds healing, surgeons say

FRIDAY, July 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- New, minimally invasive surgery requiring an incision half the length of traditional surgery works just as well for removing diseased thyroids, researchers report.

The study of 44 patients with cancerous or benign thyroid disease found the technique to be safe, with accelerated wound healing. It also produced a post-surgical cosmetic result superior to that of traditional surgery, the Medical College of Georgia researchers report.

"This is a very straightforward approach in skilled hands that allows us to use smaller incisions while still safely identifying important structures in the area, which are the nerves to the voice box and the parathyroid glands," said study lead author Dr. David J. Terris, professor and chairman of the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery.

The approach requires an incision of 1 to 2 inches -- compared with 3 to 4 inches for traditional surgery -- to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, which is located in the throat and controls metabolism.

"We use retractors to get exposure and use telescopes and other laparoscopic instruments than can fit through a small incision, then we work off the video screen. I send many of the patients home the day of surgery because it's so much less invasive," Terris said.

The study appears in the June issue of the journal Laryngoscope.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery has more about the thyroid gland.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, June 27, 2005
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