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Minimally Invasive Video-Assisted Thyroidectomy (MIVAT) allows the thyroid to operated on giving doctors a better view of the gland than in conventional surgery.

  • Furthermore, MIVAT improves the patients’ quality of life after surgery.

  • Thyroid tumors are one of the cancers becoming more common around the world.

According to data published by the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), thyroid cancer makes up less than 1% of malignant cancers diagnosed in Spain. Nevertheless, in spite of that, this type of tumor is one of the few whose incidence is increasing around the world, so early diagnosis and prompt intervention are fundamental to preventing complications.

For that reason, specialists point out that Minimally Invasive Video-Assisted Thyroidectomy (MIVAT) is confirmed as a surgical option for thyroid cancer patients. “Thanks to this technique, through a single incision and without the need for gas inflation of the neck, we can reach the tumor with much better vision than with conventional surgery” explains Dr. Mario Fernandez Fernandez, of the Head and Neck Surgery Service at MD Anderson Madrid and the pioneer of MIVAT in Spain

The improved field of vision obtained with MIVAT is one of the main advantages of this surgical procedure, as it reduces the risk of damaging the recurrent laryngeal nerve. As the specialist from MD Anderson Madrid points out, “the recurrent laryngeal nerve is the most critical part of thyroid surgery in terms of aftereffects”. If damaged, all the muscles controlled by the nerve can be paralyzed and atrophy, or waste away, causing the patient complete or partial loss of voice (aphonia).

“By applying the image technology used by MIVAT, we can see the recurrent laryngeal nerve enlarged on a screen. So the surgeon can easily distinguish and separate the nerve from other structures like the blood vessels around it, thus avoiding damaging the nerve during surgery” stresses Dr. Fernandez Fernandez.

Improved quality of life for the patient after surgery.

As it is a minimally invasive technique, MIVAT also has a number of advantages for the patient once surgery is over - first and foremost, because tissue damage is greatly reduced. With conventional surgery an incision is made around the area where the tumor is located, the tissue is lifted to provide access to the tumor and finally the tissue is sutured back in place. “ That involves scarring not only affecting the area sutured but also the skin lifted to achieve a better view of the tumor. With MIVAT the local result is optimum, with none of the classical chronic discomfort conventional thyroid surgery usually causes”, explains the doctor.

On the other hand, the incision made in MIVAT, no more than two centimeters, allows access through the cervical zone with a scar involving just two stitches. “An intervention of this kind reduces hospitalization for the thyroid patient, as well as the dose required of pain medication and, in most cases, the need for drainage is also eliminated. It all comes down to a huge improvement in the quality of life for patients, who get back to their normal routines much quicker”, sums up Dr. Fernandez Fernandez.