Dr. Stang, who has performed the technique on hundreds of patients since he began using it in 2010, performed Kirby’s surgery in March 2016 at Duke Raleigh Hospital. “Thankfully, the nodule was in the 15 percent that are benign. So she had great news,” Dr. Stang said. “Visibly, you cannot tell that she ever had thyroid surgery.”
Kirby is also pleased—with both the news that she didn’t have cancer and the cosmetic result. “I do have a scar under my arm, but it’s under my arm and no one can see it but me,” she said. She also appreciated having access to this new technique close to home. “It was so nice to have it at Duke Raleigh,” she said. “It’s literally 15 minutes from our house, so I was able to just get up in the morning and head to Duke Raleigh, and easily come home that evening.”
Dr. Stang noted that not every patient is a candidate for this approach. “The robotic thyroid surgery is really geared toward those who have either a low-risk, contained thyroid cancer, or a nodule we don’t completely know whether it’s a cancer or not,” he said. A person’s physical size—in particular, the distance between your underarm and your thyroid—can also be a factor in whether or not you are a candidate for robot-assisted surgery.