Purpose of review
The progressive growth of endoscopic and robotic-assisted procedures provided the tools for development of remote approaches to the neck, which could avoid a visible large neck scar usually necessary for neck dissections. This review explores the current experience with robotic neck dissection, looking for pros and cons in surgical, oncologic and aesthetic outcomes.
Robotic neck dissection was shown to be feasible and well tolerated, with adequate oncological outcomes in different tumours. Although difficult to objectively analyse, cosmetic satisfaction seems to be significatively higher in patients submitted to this procedure when compared with those submitted to conventional neck dissection. The only consistently reported disadvantage was longer operative time. Other potential advantages beyond cosmesis such as improvements on oedema, fibrosis, neck movement, sensory loss and social interactions were not well explored so far.
Surgical treatment of neck metastasis had several evolutions in the last decades. Robotic neck dissection emerged as an option to avoid extensive visible neck scars, improving cosmesis and probably other functional outcomes, although securing oncologic effectiveness. Technological innovation is increasingly dynamic, promising progressive evolution in robotic surgery. Together, the lack of objective data on functional outcomes warrants the need for further investigation on robotic neck dissection.