Taipei Update: 3D Printing for Transoral Endoscopic Thyroidectomy

3D Printed Patient-Specific Device Significantly Improved Safety in Patient Receiving Transoral Endoscopic Thyroidectomy

We have exciting news to share with the 3DHEALS community. The presenters from last year, Dr. Yi-Ting Yeh and Dr.Rui-Yu Chen published a study about the clinical outcome of the application of a 3D-printed protector for Transoral Endoscopic Thyroidectomy. The results were astonishing. Their design, supported by clinical evidence, could become a sustainable service for future patients, creating huge value, especially in patient safety. 

More than 52,000 adults are diagnosed with Thyroid cancer in the United States every year. It is the most common cancer in women from twenty to thirty-four years old. Major treatment involves surgery plus radioactive iodine ablation in a certain condition. Traditional thyroidectomy is performed through a two to three-inch transverse incision over the low anterior neck. The scar is apparent, especially in patients with keloid-prone skin.

Transoral Endoscopic Approach for Thyroidectomy is a cosmetic appealing surgical technique for treating thyroid cancer. Instead of removing the cancerous thyroid through the incision on the anterior neck, which is unsightly, surgeons remove the cancerous thyroid through a small incision in the mouth. No visible scar can be seen after the surgery.

However, this novel technique required a keen understanding of anatomy. One of the complications is mental nerve injury, causing low lip paresthesia. Patients suffer from numbness, sometimes pain around the low lip region, impairing quality of life. The rate of mental nerve injury was reported to be as high as 75% in the initial learning period of robotic-assisted TOETVA.

3D Printed patient-specific device significantly reduced the incidence of mental nerve injury in the procedure, according to a recent collaborative study reported by the Department of Surgery and 3D Printing Center at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan. (Printing a Three-Dimensional Patient-Specific Safety Device for Reducing the Potential Risk of Mental Nerve Injury During Transoral Thyroidectomy) Yeh and Chen et al. created a patient-specific protector by a high-resolution facial CT scan. The device fits the patients’ teeth perfectly, creating a firm foundation. The lateral margin of the protector serves as a marker indicating the location of the mental nerve, preventing intraoperative nerve injury.

According to the article, from March 2017 to March 2019, none of the 66 cases received thyroidectomy transoral endoscopic thyroidectomy vestibular approach (TOETVA) suffered from mental nerve injury.

Through the ongoing close collaboration between the surgical and design team, 3D printed patient-specific safety device is a sustainable and valuable service for patients receiving transoral endoscopic thyroidectomy.


3D Printed Patient-Specific Device Significantly Improved Safety in Patient Receiving Transoral Endoscopic Thyroidectomy

About the Author:

Kuan-Lin Chen is currently 3DHEALS Taipei community manager, and his bio can be found here.

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