Utility of the Highly Articulated Flex Robotic System for Head and Neck Procedures: A Cadaveric Study

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Abstract

Objective:

Robotic head and neck surgery potentially reduces the morbidity associated with traditional open procedures. This study’s goal was to employ a novel highly articulated robotic system (Flex Robotic System) for head and neck procedures, including a postauricular facelift approach thyroidectomy, submandibular gland (SMG) removal, and cervical lymphadenectomy.

Study Design:

It was hypothesized that the Medrobotics Flex Robotic System could be used for transcervical head and neck surgical procedures.

Methods:

Three fresh upper body human cadavers were used. The Flex Robotic System was used to complete a thyroidectomy, neck dissection, and SMG removal on each cadaver.

Results:

A postauricular incision and flap was manually raised. The robotic system was positioned on the right side of the cadaver’s head. The system’s manually controlled flexible instruments and highly shapeable, robot-assisted scope were used to perform a thyroid lobectomy. Neck dissection and SMG removal were also performed.

Conclusions:

Although a promising technology, the current robotic system (Intuitive Surgical Inc, Sunnyvale, California, USA) has limitations due to its rigid and large configuration, which decreases exposure and access. The new system’s shapeable, computer-assisted scope seeks to reduce some of these difficulties and may be better adapted for transcervical approaches to the neck operations.

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