Transoral robotic surgery, or TORS, is an advanced endoscopic technique used to remove early stage tumors of the tongue base, larynx, throat and skull base.

Traditionally, those tumors are removed via external incisions in the neck or mouth that can damage the appearance and lengthen the recovery process. TORS is a minimally invasive endoscopic surgical treatment that gives doctors improved access to the mouth and tumor site, so that patients can avoid potentially disfiguring operations and maintain quality of life. Most patients also avoid placement of a tracheotomy or feeding tube, and in some patients, lower doses of radiation therapy are needed following robotic surgery.

Other benefits of robotic surgery include shorter, more comfortable recoveries, and quicker return to normal function. Further, the benefits of robotic surgery include reduced risk of infection, shorter hospital stays and less scarring.

The da Vinci® Surgical Robot

Our surgeons use the da Vinci® surgical robot to perform TORS. The device has a three-dimensional endoscope that provides high-resolution images of the tumor site and 2 or 3 additional robotic arms to hold surgical instruments. Seated at a console in the operating room, the surgeon manipulates controls that translate the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of the surgical instruments.

Transoral Robotic Surgery Expertise

Wake Forest Baptist is among an elite group of academic medical centers nationwide specializing in TORS. In fact, our head and neck cancer surgeons performed the first transoral robotic surgery in western North Carolina using the state-of-the-art da Vinci® surgical robot.

Leader in Transoral Robotic Surgery

Joshua D. Waltonen, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology, discusses transoral robotic surgery for head and neck cancer patients at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.