Background. Supraomohyoid neck dissection (SOND) in clinical N0 (cN0) neck of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is performed by many head and neck surgeons showing improved regional control and disease-specific survival. However, disfiguring neck scars have been accepted to be unavoidable. In this study, we sought to introduce and evaluate the feasibility of our surgical technique to hide the external scar of neck dissection using the robotic system via a modified face-lift or retroauricular approach. Methods. Twenty-six patients with cN0 oral cavity SCC were divided into two groups of robot-assisted neck dissection and conventional neck dissection via external cervical incision. The operation time, amount and duration of drainage, length of hospital stay, complications, number of retrieved lymph nodes, and satisfaction scores were compared. Results. Mean operation time was longer in the robot-assisted group (157 ± 22 min) than the conventional group (78 ± 16 min) (P<0.001). However, the amount and duration of drainage, hospital stay, retrieved lymph nodes, and complications were comparable. Because the postoperative scar was hidden by the auricle and hair, the satisfaction score was significantly higher in the robot-assisted group (P<0.001). Conclusions. Robot-assisted SOND via a modified face-lift or retroauricular approach in cN0 oral cavity SCC was feasible compared to conventional technique and showed a clear cosmetic benefit. Longer operation time remains the drawback of this procedure. However, it could be considered for patients who require SOND and prefer to avoid external neck scar.
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