Transoral Robotics Surgery, or TORS, is a procedure used by some ear, nose & throat surgeons (ENT) to remove problematic patches from the throat with the da Vinci robot. It is a great breakthrough in treating certain cancers because it allows surgeons to access areas of the mouth, throat and voice box that were previously difficult to get to.
Surgeons use a device called the da Vinci robot that allows them to direct the use of surgical tools from a remote control console that sits right beside the patient. The robotic system gives the surgeon an enhanced view of the inner areas of the throat and enables much more precise movements.
TORS is mainly used in three cases. The first is as an FDA-approved method of removing cancers of the throat. The second is for addressing issues with sleep apnea, which can be surgically improved. It is also occasionally used to remove benign tumors in the throat.
Surgery performed with the instruments used in TORS offers extreme precision in the movements in the surgical area. It also gives the physician the ability to get a close and accurate view of the areas inside the mouth and throat. The camera on the robot goes into the mouth and gives the surgeon 3D vision. The surgeon then uses long, straight instruments with tips on them that move like a wrist to offer excellent motor control, especially in crowded areas like the throat.
There are many cases where the da Vinci robot allows less invasive procedures to be done with less side effects and faster recovery times. For instance, accessing a tumor on the base of the tongue would have previously required an intensive and difficult surgery because it would necessitate opening the neck and splitting the lip and jaw. With the robot, the surgery can often be performed without major incisions like this.
Whether or not TORS can be used depends on the location of the tumor and how far it extends. It is helpful in many instances, however, some cancers/tumors are better treated with other methods instead of surgery, such as radiation and chemotherapy. Your physician can work with you to evaluate the specifics of your case and determine the best treatment options.
In general, as long as you are a candidate for surgery, there’s a good chance that you would be a candidate for TORS as well.