With about 10-12 per cent of the population in the country suffering from varying degree of thyroid problem and at least 20 per cent of them estimated to be having nodules, many would be requiring surgery to remove them.
While the conventional surgery leaves a scar across the neck, the patients now have an option to go for robotic surgery to avoid disfigurement.
During the past week, surgeons at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai and Hyderabad performed robotic surgery on 10 young patients without making an incision on the neck under the guidance of renowned robotic thyroid surgeon from Korea, Dr. Woon Youn Chung, who pioneered the technique. The surgeries were performed by making a small incision in the axilla (arm-pit) instead of neck without leaving a visible scar.
Consultant Head and Neck and Robotic Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, Dr. Umanath K. Nayak, said that in one-two per cent cases, the thyroid nodules turn cancerous but remain benign in a vast majority.
The nodules would be removed whenever there was a risk of malignancy or if the benign ones keep enlarging. He said that in about 50 per cent patients who develop nodules, they keep growing and would have to be removed surgically.
He said thyroid cancers were curable although not so common in India. Once the thyroid was removed, 99 per cent get cured. He said that even in advanced stage, 50-60 per cent would be cured. Dr. Chung said that he had performed more than 3,000 thyroid surgeries using the Da Vinci robot and the patients hailed from different countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.
Dr Nayak said that while an open surgery would cost Rs.1.5 lakh, the robotic surgery would cost between Rs.2 to Rs.2.5 lakh.