Yale New Haven Hospital first in United States to perform thyroidectomy without visible scarring

Friday, April 1, 2016
Yale New Haven Hospital Endocrine Surgeon Dr. Robert Udelsman, left, seated prepares to perform a thyroidectomy through the mouth of a female patient from Wallingford, CT, thus avoiding visible scarring that normally accompanies such surgeries.

New Haven, CT  — This week, surgeons at Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) performed the first ever thyroid and parathyroidectomies via the mouth in the U.S., avoiding visible scarring. YNHH Endocrine Surgeon Robert Udelsman, MD, MBA performed this procedure, called a transoral endoscopic thyroidectomy via the vestibular approach, multiple times this week. This new method allows a surgeon to access the thyroid or parathyroid through the inside of the patient's lower lip rather than the common neck location. The recovery time is the same and the outcomes have been excellent.

This surgical approach was pioneered by Thai Surgeon Angkoon Anuwong, MD, of the Police General Hospital in Bangkok. He developed this method because visible neck scarring can be very stigmatizing for Asian women. Other surgical methods, which involve making incisions through the breast and underarm, have higher rates of complications.

Dr. Udelsman and his colleague Tobias Carling, MD, PhD, traveled to Thailand to observe the procedure and, upon their return, underwent the rigorous procedures at YNHH, to be approved and credentialed to perform the surgery. Of the six procedures done so far this week at YNHH, Dr. Carling performed three. Dr. Anuwong has been in the operating room this week observing.

"Yale New Haven Hospital is one of the world's largest centers for thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal procedures, performing over 1,200 cases annually," said Dr. Udelsman. "This new surgical method will allow patients to avoid what can be an embarrassing and sometimes stigmatizing reminder of the procedure on their neck. I'm extremely grateful to Drs. Anuwong and Carling for assisting and implementing this technique in the United States. I would also like to thank Drs. Oprea and Rhodes, along with Charlene Campbell, ARN, Kristin Brooks, CRNA, Melissa Sansone, RN, Shaun Small, surgical technician, Patricia Donovan, RN, MBA and the spectacular staff at YNHH who made this complex procedure possible."

Dr. Udelsman has spent his entire career working on developing minimally invasive endocrine procedures. He was one of the first in the world to pioneer minimally invasive parathyroidectomy and was an early adopter of laparoscopic adrenalectomy. 


thyroid procedure

Yale New Haven Hospital Endocrine Surgeon Dr. Robert Udelsman, center, performs a thyroidectomy through the mouth. To his left Dr. Anuwong and Dr. Carling. The two-hour procedure now allows for a minimally invasive entry through the patient’s inside bottom lip, avoiding the usual scarring with a neck incision. 


Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH), part of Yale New Haven Health, is a nationally recognized, 1,541-bed, not-for-profit hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine (YSM). Founded as the fourth voluntary hospital in the U.S. in 1826, today, YNHH has two New Haven-based campuses, and also includes Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital. YNHH has received Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence. YNHH has a combined medical staff of about 4,500 university and community physicians practicing in more than 100 specialties. www.ynhh.org

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