Removing the thyroid used to mean major surgery and a very large, unattractive incision across the neck. Even though the incisions have gotten smaller in recent years, there's now a way eliminate the neck scar altogether.
Lauren Selig should have a scar on her neck but she doesn't.
That's because Lauren is the first patient the Northwest to have thyroid surgery using the da Vinci robot.
Instead of making an incision in the neck, surgeons go through the armpit.
Lauren's doctor, Kathy Stickney wasn't completely sold on the technique-- at first.
"I thought basically that it sounded hard. Like why are we going to make something that is so straight-forward and simple for us through a neck incision. Why are we going to make it so difficult?"
However, she quickly saw the benefits.
"The robot itself is extremely big when you look at it in a room, but the end of its arms, its fingers, if you will, are extremely tiny. They're very precise. Basically, the part that's in the patient can do things with flexibility greater than my wrists and my fingers and I have incredible magnification and optics so I quickly became sold."
Lauren symptoms started when she felt like she had a lump in her throat.
"When I swallowed originally, you could see a little bump rising right there."
That bump was a tumor --possibly cancerous. Lauren's timing was perfect for this new surgery.
" I am apparently the first in the Northwest, not that you want to have bragging rights to something like this, but I'm really happy that we have something like this available to people," she said
Ten days after surgery, she was back at the gym doing a full workout. .
" I had almost no issues at all, other than a little raspy voice for a couple days after, because it's right on top of your vocal cords. I'm just. I'm thrilled at what's taken place." she said.
The best candidates for this surgery are not overweight, have smaller lesions and if those lesions are cancerous, the cancer hasn't spread.
This Northwest "first" was a collaboration between The Polyclinc and Swedish Medical Center