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Head and Neck Surgery

Revolutionary Care

Sacred Heart Head and Neck SurgerySince Sacred Heart acquired its first daVinci™ robot in 2002, the surgery program has grown exponentially, welcoming a variety of specialists as well as continuing to add the latest technology. Today, the Medical Center has three robots and 14 surgeons who have performed more than 1,700 cardiac, gynecologic and urlogic procedures.

In 2010, Providence welcomed its newest robotic surgeons: Brian Mitchell, DO (pictured above, left) and Jeff Bunn, MD (right), of Spokane ENT (ear, nose and throat). Drs. Mitchell and Bunn, board-certified ENT physicians, fellowship-trained in head and neck surgery and micro-vascular reconstruction, say robotic surgery allows them to access “from the inside out” to treat these conditions:

  • Cancers of the mouth, throat and larynx — These procedures have previously required surgical treatments with significant side effects or chemoradiation therapy. With trans-oral robotic surgery (TORS), the patient may avoid these.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea — Enlarged tonsils and excess tissues at the soft palate and tongue can obstruct the airway. Robot-assisted surgery provides much better access to these areas, particularly the base of the tongue; and advantage over traditional surgery.

Future plans include adding trans-axillary robotic surgery for patients with thyroid disease. It offers not only a quick recovery but the cosmetic benefits of avoiding the scar across the neck. The surgeon simply positions the arm above the head and enters through the underarm to remove the thyroid. The procedure is most appropriate for select patients, such as those who have smaller nodules and who only need one lobe of the gland removed.

Ask the Doctor

A viewer asks about a recent diagonsis of stones in her salivary gland; another about throat cancer, and its treatment. Brian Mitchell, DO, explains in our “Ask the Doctor” video segments.