Scarless Thyroid Surgery

FRESNO, Calif.

Kathryn Barley can finally find time to sit down and relax. It wasn't long ago the bump on her thyroid gland caused too much pain for anything at all.

"The nodule moved up above the collarbone and began pressing on the nerves on the side of my neck," Kathryn Barley, thyroid surgery patient, told Ivanhoe.

Fifty percent of the world's population has the same issue. One in every 15 women has a thyroid nodule, compared to one in every 50 men. But Barley balked on surgery for fear of the three-inch long neck scar it would likely leave.

"I just didn't want to be reminded constantly, every morning when I get dressed that I had a scar across here [rubs finger across neck], and oh, by the way, I had surgery," Barley explained.

"Thyroid surgery is fairly common, and it's one of the most common growing endocrine problems requiring surgery," Amelia Grover, M.D., assistant professor division of surgical oncology department of surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, stated.

Virginia Commonwealth University Doctor Grover unveiled a new procedure. By cutting underneath the armpit, then routing to the neck there would be no visible scar.

"Many women have a difficult time hiding that scar over time, so this allows it to be more of a private matter," Dr. Grover added.

The Da-Vinci robot was recently FDA approved for this specific surgery, using 3D cameras and robotic arms. While it runs three hours, slightly longer than the old neck incision procedure, the benefits are obvious. Barley is one of the first in the U.S. to have this surgery.

"I think the true mark of a successful surgery is to resume your life and you forget that you ever had the surgery," Barley concluded.

Turns out her thyroid lump was benign -- and in a week she was back to her old self. No scare, no scar, no problems.

Currently, clinical trials are underway to assess the level of confidence gained from this type of surgery. It's hypothesized that women, especially, will feel more confident in public with no visible surgical scar.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at mhitchcock@ivanhoe.com

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