The rise of transoral robotic surgery in the head and neck: emerging applications

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The use of robotics in the field of head and neck surgery has provided surgeons with the ability to access anatomic locations that were previously only managed via open techniques. This has resulted in decreased overall morbidity, excellent functional results and the promise of equivalent oncologic outcomes. Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) provides access to the oropharynx, hypopharynx, larynx, oral cavity, parapharyngeal space and skull base vial the oral aperture. Studies reviewing the application of TORS to these subsites have been promising, and for many applications TORS has been accepted as a safe and efficacious option for surgical management. However, despite these promising results, TORS remains a surgical instrument that requires sound surgical skill, clinical judgment and oncologic principles, and should be chosen based on the needs of the individual patient and the comfort of the treating surgeon. In this article, we review the history of TORS, relevant anatomy and provide a review of the literature, highlighting the applications, advantages, functional outcomes and disadvantages of TORS for each anatomic subsite.

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