Hemorrhage after Transoral Robotic-Assisted Surgery

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Abstract

Objective

An increasing number of head and neck surgeons have begun using transoral robotic-assisted surgery. Our objective was to examine the postoperative bleeding complications we have encountered to determine risk factors and to discuss the topic of hemorrhage control.

Study Design

Case series with chart review.

Methods

Medical records were reviewed in 147 consecutive patients undergoing transoral robotic-assisted surgery for any indication at one tertiary academic medical center between March 2007 and September 2011.

Results

Eleven of 147 (7.5%) patients undergoing transoral robotic-assisted surgery experienced some degree of postoperative hemorrhage, with 9 patients requiring reoperation for examination and/or control of bleeding. Bleeding occurred at a mean of 11.1 ± 9.2 days after initial operation. Eight of 11 (72%) patients who bled were on antithrombotic medication (anticoagulants or antiplatelet agents) for other medical comorbidities. The postoperative hemorrhage rate in patients taking antithrombotic medication (8/48 patients = 17%) was significantly higher than in those not taking antithrombotics (3/99 patients = 3%), P = .0057. While the bleeding rate in salvage surgery (3/29 = 10.3%) was slightly higher than in primary surgery (8/118 = 6.8%), this difference did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusion

Potential for postoperative bleeding in association with antithrombotic medications in patients undergoing transoral robotic-assisted surgery should be recognized. Various effective techniques for management of these patients without robotic assistance were demonstrated.

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