BENGALURU: Standard thyroid surgeries leave evident scars across a patient’s neck, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. About 30 per cent of adult women and 20 per cent of adult men have thyroid nodules on ultrasound scan of their necks. While not all of them may be cancerous, large thyroid swelling or those causing trouble should be removed.
When 30-year-old Rekha (name changed) found out that she had thyroid cancer when tested, she did not want the upcoming surgery to leave a permanent scar. When she heard about the possibility of a scar-less robotic surgery, she approached Dr Sandeep Nayak, a senior consultant surgical oncologist.
Dr Nayak, who practices at Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, said, “The technique is called RABIT (Robotic Assisted Breast-axillo Insufflated Thyroidectomy). Instead of the conventional method, I make an opening in the armpit region, near the breast with the help of a robot. The advantage of using the robot here are precision, 3D vision and magnification. Even small nodules can be spotted using this technique and the scar that remains after surgery is small and negligible.”
“Most of my patients who have thyroid nodules, benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous, are youngsters of the age group 20 to 30 years. The scar on the neck affects them psychologically because people stare at it while talking to them all the time. They ask them about the cause and this scar remains with them lifelong. The wounds are big, seven to eight centimetres on the neck. At times, to have it covered, patients opt for the scar to be behind the neck, so they can hide it with their hair. With RABIT, the scar is between 0.8 to two centimetres and in their armpit,” Dr Nayak explained.
To cover the J-shaped scar on the neck, people often resort to dupattas or high-neck shirts. With this technique, they no longer have to worry, he claimed. The wound is smaller due to use of carbon dioxide gas. Dr Nayak developed the technique a year ago and has performed it on 25 patients.
“It was only when I was confident about it that I started presenting it to others in the medical community. I was invited to speak in the conferences in Taiwan and Bangladesh, two to three months ago. In the coming days, I will be heading to Delhi and UAE to demonstrate the technique so that other doctors can apply it as well,” he added.