As research continues to lead to groundbreaking medical advancements, surgeries become less invasive and recovery times decrease. Such is true for thyroidectomies and parathyroidectomies, surgeries to remove part or all of the thyroid or parathyroid glands, respectively. The transoral vestibular approach (TOVA) offers eligible patients the opportunity to skip invasive procedures and opt for a minimally invasive laparoscopic approach instead. Currently, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is the only center in Texas that offers this novel procedure.
How Does the Transoral Vestibular Approach Work?
After putting the patient under anesthesia, a surgeon will make three incisions in the area in front of the bottom teeth, each about 3-10 millimeters long. The surgeon will then thread a small fiber-optic camera and thin surgical tools through the incisions. The doctor will place the item they’re removing (whether it be a nodule or a part—or all—of the thyroid or parathyroid) in a bag and pull it out through the middle incision. The surgeon will then use dissolvable stitches to close up the three incisions.
You have a cancerous thyroid nodule that’s smaller than 2 cm.
You have a benign thyroid nodule that’s smaller than 6 cm.
You have primary hyperparathyroidism or an eligible case of secondary or tertiary hyperparathyroidism.
What Are the Benefits of the TOVA Procedure?
Unlike the traditional thyroidectomy procedure, which requires an incision in the neck, the TOVA leaves no visible scars. Since there are no large incisions involved, patients typically only have to stay in the hospital for one night after the procedure and can often return to their normal lives soon after.