Robotic Surgery for Head and Neck Cancer

Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) – FAQs

Johns Hopkins head and neck surgeon Carole Fakhry explains what TORS is, who is eligible for this surgery, the benefits of this procedure and what to expect after TORS.


Tumors in the throat, base of the tongue and tonsils, hotspots for human papilloma virus (HPV)-positive tumors of the head and neck can be difficult to reach surgically. Traditionally, their surgically removal entailed cutting the jaw, a large incision in the neck, long hospital stays and extensive rehabilitation of swallowing and speech.

However, robotic surgery now permits us to reach these tumors through the mouth in a minimally invasive surgery. Robotic surgery allows a surgeon to have a high-resolution, 3-D image for precise cuts around the tumor. With advancement in technology, there are now multiple robotically-guided instruments that are under complete control of our expert head and neck surgeons', that allow safe removal of tumors from surrounding tissue. Johns Hopkins is proud to offer state-of-the-art robotic surgery. The most advanced robot is now part of our armamentarium and Hopkins is the first in Maryland to perform transoral robotic surgery (TORS) on HPV-related head and neck cancer using the most advanced system to date. Johns Hopkins surgeons are also using this state-of-the-art robot to explore other possible applications of this technology in surgery on the thyroid, parathyroid and submandibular glands.

Who is a Candidate for Transoral Robotic Surgery?

Robotic surgical technology and TORS applications continue to advance and expand for use on tumors in other parts of the head and neck, as well as in the treatment of sleep apnea and other conditions.

In addition to avoiding the scars left by traditional, invasive surgical methods, studies show that patients who undergo transoral robotic surgery have similar or better post-surgery speech and swallowing function. For some early-stage cancers, the final pathology evaluation may demonstrate that there is no need for additional treatment after TORS.

Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Specialists

Our head and neck surgeons and speech language pathologists take a proactive approach to cancer treatment. Meet the specialists who will work closely with you during your journey.