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Doctors perform thyroid surgery using a new and less invasive technique

A moment during the transoral thyroid operation.
A moment during the transoral thyroid operation. / SUR
  • The operation was carried out at El Ángel hospital by Thanyawat Sasanakietkul, Enrique Glückmann and Luis Ocaña

A patient has recently undergone thyroid surgery using a new technique. The successful procedure, which is known as 'transoral thyroidectomy' and is carried out via the mouth, was performed at the HLA El Ángel hospital by Thai surgeon Thanyawat Sasanakietkul and colleagues Enrique Glückmann and Luis Ocaña, who are from Malaga.

Dr Sasanakietkul, who is normally based at the General Hospital in Bangkok, is the world's leading expert in this technique, which is minimally invasive and is used for patients with thyroid cancer or thyroid nodules. The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the lower front of the neck, just below the Adam's apple.

The procedure is carried out by endoscopy, so it leaves no scarring on the neck and the patients recover much more quickly. They do not suffer as much pain and they are able to go back to work sooner than those who have undergone the traditional surgical technique.

The operation which took place this week was broadcast live on an internal circuit at the hospital so more than 60 experts on thyroid could watch it, while listening to a running commentary from Dr Sasanakietkul.

This was onlythe second operation of its type to be carried out in Spain, and it was part of the first workshop on transoral thyroid surgery.

"In ten years or so, most thyroid operations will be carried out using this technique," said Dr Glückmann, who organised the workshop alongside Dr Jorge García-Alemán, in collaboration with the Clínico hospital's endocrinology department.

The event also included a conference on thyroid cancer at the Ilunión hotel, which was attended by 170 experts. The incidence of this type of cancer has increased threefold, from 50 cases a year to 150, and although the reason for this increase is not exactly known, one reason could be that better diagnostic methods mean that thyroid cancer is detected earlier nowadays.

The conference also featured the latest medical and surgical advances in treating thyroid tumors. This type of cancer used to be treated more aggressively, by removing the thyroid and giving the patients a hormonal therapy for the rest of their lives. Now, more conservative techniques are used. Only part of the thyroid is removed so the rest of the gland continues to function, and the patients do not need to take the tablets, explained Dr Glückmann.

Another important subject covered at the conference was advances in the field of molecular biology, through which doctors study DNA and can predict the diagnosis and prognosis of patients in the future, such as whether the tumor might return and their chances of survival. It can also determine whether patients' family members are also at risk of developing thyroid cancer.