Medical Minute 1-21: Scarless Thyroid Surgery

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

Kathryn Barley can finally find time to sit down and relax. It wasn't long ago the bump on her thyroid gland caused too much pain for anything at all.

"The nodule moved up above the collarbone and began pressing on the nerves on the side of my neck," she said.

50 percent of the world's population has the same issue. One-in-every-15 women has a thyroid nodule, compared to one-in-every-50 men. But Kathryn balked on surgery for fear of the three-inch-long neck scar it would likely leave

"I just didn't want to be reminded constantly, every morning when I get dressed that I had a scar across here [rubs finger across neck], and 'oh, by the way, I had surgery," said Kathryn Barley.

"Thyroid surgery is fairly common, and it's one of the most common growing endocrine problems requiring surgery," said Amelia Grover, M.D., Assistant Professor Division of Surgical Oncology Department of Surgery Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.

Virginia Commonwealth University Doctor Amelia Grover unveiled a new procedure. By cutting underneath the armpit, then routing to the neck there would be no visible scar.

"Many women have a difficult time hiding that scar over time, so this allows it to be more of a private matter," said Amelia Grover, M.D.

The Da-Vinci robot was recently FDA approved for this specific surgery, using 3D cameras and robotic arms. While it runs three hours, slightly longer than the old neck incision procedure, the benefits are obvious. Kathryn's one of the first in the U.S. to have this surgery.

"I think the true mark of a successful surgery is to resume your life and you forget that you ever had the surgery," said Kathryn Barley.

Turns out her thyroid lump was benign -- and in a week she was back to her old self. No scare, no scar, no problems.

Malorie G. Janis Public Relations Specialist Virginia Commonwealth University(804)

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