Robotic-Assisted Thymectomy: Surgical Procedure and Results

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Abstract

Background

Thymectomy is an essential component in the treatment of myasthenia gravis (MG) and the best treatment for localized thymoma. Minimally invasive thymectomy has advanced to include robotic-assisted techniques. The acceptance of this approach is growing rapidly, while the debate on the adequate technique for thymectomy remains open.

Methods

We describe the technique of robotic-assisted thymectomy and its modifications. The worldwide registries and the literature are reviewed. The experience from the largest single-center database is analyzed.

Results

The unilateral three-trocar approach for robotic thymectomy from either left or right side has been standardized. More than 100 centers worldwide perform robotic thymectomy. The annual number of this procedure increased steadily and reached 1,000 in 2012, while the largest single-center experiences comprise almost 500 cases. The end points improvement of MG and recurrence of thymoma are comparable to open procedures. There are special advantages of robotic assistance for complete mediastinal dissection. The perioperative complication rate is below 2%.

Conclusion

Robotic thymectomy combines minimal incisional discomfort with extensive mediastinal dissection. As its use expands, robotic thymectomy may become the standard for all indications of thymectomy.

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