The importance of bedside assistants has been well established in various robotic procedures. However, the effect of assistants on the surgical outcomes of thyroid surgery remains unclear. We investigated the effects of a dedicated robot assistant (DRA) in robotic thyroidectomy. We also evaluated the learning curve of the DRA. Between January 2016 and December 2019, 191 patients underwent robotic total thyroidectomy, all of which were performed by a single surgeon. The DRA participated in 93 cases, while non-dedicated assistants (NRAs) helped with 98 cases. Demographic data, pathologic data, operative times, and postoperative complications were recorded and analyzed. Robotic thyroidectomy was successful in all 191 patients, and none required conversion to the conventional open procedure. Mean operative time was shorter in the DRA group than in the NRA group (183.2 ± 33.6 minutes vs 203.1 ± 37.9 minutes; P <.001). There were no significant differences in terms of sex distribution, age, preoperative serum thyroid stimulating hormone level, or pathologic characteristics between the groups. Cumulative summation analysis showed that it took 36 cases for the DRA to significantly reduce operative time. Mean operative time decreased significantly in the subgroup including the 37th to the 93rd DRA cases compared with the subgroup including only the first 36 DRA cases (199.7 ± 37.3 minutes vs 172.8 ± 26.4 minutes; P <.001). NRA group showed no definite decrease of operation time, which indicated that the NRAs did not significantly deviate from the mean performance. Increased experience of the bedside assistant reduced operative times in the robotic thyroidectomy. Assistant training should be considered as a component of robotic surgery training programs.
- Cumulative summation
- Learning curve