Purpose: We hypothesized that comprehensive neck dissection could be achieved via a gasless transaxillary approach using a robotic system. We intended to evaluate the accessibility of level I, IIB and VA nodes with transaxillary robot-assisted neck dissection of four cadavers. Materials and Methods: Transaxillary robotic neck dissection was performed in four cadavers through a 7-cm longitudinal incision at the anterior axilla and a 0.8-cm-sized incision in the chest wall. Results: We successfully performed neck dissection from level II to V in all four cadavers. However, dissection of levels IIB and VA, which lie on the cephalic portion of the spinal accessory nerve, was difficult. Vital structures, including the internal jugular vein, carotid artery, vagus nerve, phrenic nerve, superior thyroid artery and hypoglossal nerve, were successfully identified and preserved. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate the feasibility of robot-assisted neck dissection using a transaxillary approach. We suggest that gasless, transaxillary robotic neck dissection is a promising technique for treating nodal metastasis in thyroid cancers or in selected squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. However, some modification of the approach might be needed when performing comprehensive neck dissections of all levels of the neck.
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