Robotic Head & Neck Surgery Program

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Drs. Zanation and Zdanski

In March 2010, Dr. Adam Zanation performed North Carolina’s first Transoral Robotic Head and Neck Surgery (TORS) and since that time the OHNS Department has setup a Robotic Head and Neck Surgery Program. Currently Dr. Trevor Hackman and Dr. Carlton Zdanski are credentialed in TORS, giving the UNC Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery three active TORS surgeons. Currently, UNC has performed robotic surgeries for transoral tumor resections, complex obstructive sleep apnea surgery, pediatric airway reconstruction and even skull base tumor surgery.

The da Vinci robotic surgery system is a three dimensional endoscope-based robot with three articulating instrument arms. As the surgeon operates, state-of-the-art robotic and computer technologies scale, filter and seamlessly translate the surgeon’s hand movements into precise micro-movements of the da Vinci instruments. The primary advantage of the system is high definition 3D visualization, flexibility with complex instrument movements in tight spaces, and the ability to access areas of aerodigestive tract without incisions or splitting the mandible. This has the potential to reduce surgical morbidity and provide better patient functional outcomes.

Dr. Carlton Zdanski (Pediatric Otolaryngology) and Dr. Zanation have been working together on pediatric Transoral Robotic Surgeries. They performed the first reported Pediatric TOR surgery for a tumor in the nation and performed TORS on the smallest known child (8 pounds). The two of them have now successful performed multiple pediatric TORS procedures without a complication. By combining the expertise in pediatric otolaryngology and TORS/head and neck surgery, Drs. Zanation and Zdanski are hoping to advance the care of children that need minimally invasive surgery.

The UNC Robotics Program is currently seeing patients for selected head and neck cancers, tongue base related obstructive sleep apnea, complex pediatric airway lesions and skull base tumors. Future research plans involve expanding robotic indications for skull base surgery and merging other technologies with the robotic interface. For patient referrals call Laura Miller at the Head and Neck Oncology Program at 984-974-8234.