Robotic Head and Neck Surgery: The Essential Guide

Review by K Ah-See
Aberdeen, UK

This concise and well-produced short textbook provides the reader with an introduction to the essentials of robotic surgery within the head and neck field. This includes a short history of its development, as well as advice on the education and training for robotic surgery. There follows a detailed and well-illustrated guide to setting up the operating theatre with a da Vinci robot.

Once one is set, there are several chapters addressing the specifics of individual tumour sites, such as the oropharynx, larynx and hypopharynx. In addition, there are chapters covering robotic surgery for sleep apnoea, parapharyngeal space tumours, thyroidectomy, neck dissection and skull base surgery.

As a conventionally trained head and neck surgeon, I found it difficult to justify, or indeed identify real benefits for, robotic neck dissection or robotic skull base surgery; in addition, robotic thyroidectomy is clearly a technique favoured in some parts of the world, which may not easily apply to the UK. The emphasis in these cases seems to be cosmetic, in minimising scarring. There are, however, some strong advocates for these techniques, and they are undoubtedly a new and exciting area of development. 

The final chapter is a philosophical look at the future of robotic surgery, which concludes that we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg.

As with most (but not all) Thieme publications, the quality here is good, with some excellent colour photographs and good colour diagrams. There is a small library of videos that can be accessed with the code printed inside the front cover. As most chapters follow a similar format, presumably the editors’ choice, there is some repetition at the start of a few of the chapters.

It is my opinion that, in the near future, all major centres will have access to their own robot and that there will be an increasing role for this technology, especially in head and neck surgery. This book provides an excellent and timely introduction to this field.

Amazon Link: Robotic Head and Neck Surgery: The Essential Guide
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