Napa, California—January 21, 2017—Surgeons are more widely using robotic surgery to remove head and neck cancer via the mouth—which avoids incisions and shortens recovery—however, the procedure raises the risk of significant bleeding that can lead to catastrophic harm, including brain injury or death. A study of incidences and complications related to this postoperative hemorrhaging, funded by a grant from The Doctors Company Foundation, today was honored by a national otolaryngology society.
Joseph Zenga, MD, resident with the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, received the Lawrence Boies MD Resident Research Award from the Triological Society at its meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, for his podium presentation “Incidents and Complications of Postoperative Hemorrhage After Transoral Robotic Surgery.” The society not only honored Dr. Zenga for the highest quality resident manuscript but will also publish the study in an upcoming edition of its peer-reviewed journal, The Laryngoscope.
The study of 509 patients who underwent robotic transoral surgery found that 8 percent suffered a hemorrhage and 2 percent had severe complications. Researchers found that patients with heart disease and COPD who undergo robotic transoral surgery have a higher risk of postoperative hemorrhage.
Dr. Zenga said the study is important because it provides a true understanding of the risks of this type of surgery as well as the complications that can result. The findings, he noted, enable surgeons to better counsel patients on operative risks and provide a starting point to track progress in improving surgical safety.
“This research is particularly relevant today as the incidence of throat cancer caused by the HPV virus is growing exponentially,” Dr. Zenga added. “Currently there is an average of 15,000 cases of HPV-related throat cancer annually, and this type of cancer is estimated by the CDC to have exceeded the number of HPV-related cervical cancer cases. With this growing epidemic, the findings in this study on the operative risks of robotic transoral surgery become all the more important.”
“We are immensely pleased to enhance patient safety and support the practice of good medicine by providing the $10,000 grant that made this study possible,” said David B. Troxel, MD, chairman of The Doctors Company Foundation and medical director of The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. “By supporting this research on the risks of postoperative bleeding from transoral robotic surgery, we are shining a light on the risks and trends that others don’t see.”
About The Doctors Company Foundation
The purpose of the foundation is to support patient safety education for healthcare professionals and patient safety research with clinically useful applications. In this context, patient safety is defined as a healthcare discipline that minimizes the incidence and impact of adverse events by redesigning systems and processes using human factors principles to reduce errors. Visit www.tdcfoundation.com.