Transoral robotic surgery and transoral laser microsurgery for oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer

Baran D. Sumer, Varun Goyal, John M. Truelson, Larry L. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The aim of our study was to compare transoral laser microsurgery (TLM) and transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for primary resection of oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer (OPSCC). This was a retrospective chart analysis of 33 patients with OPSCC treated at one academic medical center with either TORS (n = 17) or TLM (n = 16) between July 2008 and December 2010. Six patients in the TLM group and seven patients in the TORS group had primary cancer of the tonsil; the remaining patients had base of tongue cancer. Two patients in the TORS group had Stage I or II disease; the other 31 patients had Stage III [1/16 (6 %) TLM; 5/17 (29 %) TORS] or Stage IV cancer [15/16 (94 %) TLM; 10/17 (59 %) TORS]. The intervention was transoral surgery for OPSCC, and the main outcome measures were perioperative variables and functional outcomes. Mean operative time was 170 versus 115 min for TLM and TORS, respectively (p = 0.057). One patient, in the TLM group, required a temporary tracheostomy. Perioperative feeding tubes were placed in 6/16 (38 %) patients who underwent TLM and in 4/17 (24 %) patients who underwent TORS (p = 0.465). At a median follow-up of 14.5 months, the average MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory score was 65.2 for TLM and 70.8 for TORS (p = 0.431). All TORS procedures were performed with a single oral retractor, while multiple laryngoscopes were required in 9/16 (56 %) TLM cases (p = 0.0003). The mean number of total specimens were 6.2 for TORS and 13.6 for TLM (p = 0.002). These results demonstrate that TLM and TORS have comparable perioperative variables with no significant differences in functional outcomes. For a subset of patients, TORS reduced the spatial complexity of surgery, suggested by the decreased need for multiple laryngoscopes, fewer specimens, and shorter operative times, while larger tumors were more amenable to TLM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-383
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Robotic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • TORS
  • Transoral robotic surgery
  • Transoral surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Health Informatics


Dive into the research topics of 'Transoral robotic surgery and transoral laser microsurgery for oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this