Minimally Invasive Surgery

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Our Head and Neck Cancer Program helps you start on the road to recovery. For more information, connect with a cancer care specialist at 310-774-6275​​​​​​​.

Head and Neck Cancer: Minimally Invasive Surgery

If you have a head or neck tumor, your cancer physician may recommend surgery, depending on its location. At the UCLA Head and Neck Cancer Program (HNCP), we offer minimally invasive surgery for cancer whenever possible.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Until recently, people with complex head and neck disorders had few options for minimally invasive surgery for treatment. Traditional approaches to cancer removal through external incisions often resulted in:

  • Visible scars
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing following surgery
  • A lengthy recovery

“Minimally invasive” surgery may cause fewer side effects compared to traditional surgery. This type of surgery is usually performed with an endoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end.

We offer two advanced types of minimally invasive surgery:

  • Transoral robotic surgery (TORS)
  • Transoral laser microsurgery (TLM)

Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) at UCLA

The newest treatment option for head and neck cancer is transoral robotic surgery (TORS). This technique is especially helpful for patients with cancers of the mouth, pharynx (throat), and larynx (voice box). Compared with traditional surgery, minimally invasive TORS can benefit patients by:

  • Significantly reducing postoperative pain
  • Allowing for a shorter hospital stay
  • Enabling a quicker return to normal daily activities
  • Reducing overall expenses of cancer treatment

Our surgeons use the TORS system at both the Ronald Reagan and Santa Monica UCLA Medical Centers. This system is the latest version of the da Vinci robotic surgical system and features the following:

  • 3D image-processing system for clear images of tumors
  • Interactive mechanical arms with joints that follow the movements of the surgeon’s hands while eliminating hand tremor
  • camera arm that allows the surgeon to see a high definition and magnified view of the procedure
  • TORS Surgery Patient Stories: Michael's Story - Tongue Cancer | Paul's Story - Throat Cancer

Transoral Laser Microsurgery (TLM)

Transoral laser microsurgery (TLM) uses a cutting laser and binocular microscopes to remove tumors. Our surgeons use the cutting energy of the laser to separate and remove cancerous cells from healthy tissue.

The TLM technique has proved to help retain organ function and quality of life in patients after surgery. In addition to tumors of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, TLM is especially suited for cancerous tissue removal in the voice box and lower throat areas.

Minimally Invasive Surgery Appointments