Press releases

An innovative approach allows the removal of the thyroid gland without leaving a scar on the neck

• An endoscopic surgery by bilateral axillo- breast approach (BABA) is performed using 4 access points
• Vithas International is the first private medical centre in Spain to offer this technique to its patients

17 Jan 2019

Thyroid surgery, in general, offers very good results to patients. Practically the only sequel that occurs is a scar between 4 and 6 cm on the neck, a visible area. Precisely to avoid this complication, Vithas International has implemented a novel approach that allows performing thyroidectomy avoiding neck incision.

As explained by Dr Enrique Mercader, director of the Endocrine, Metabolic and Obesity Surgery Unit at Vithas International, “we reproduce the same technique as in open surgery but using materials and strategies inherited from abdominal endoscopic surgery”. It practically is a change of surgical approach: “the goal is to have the incisions in places that are not visible or that are hidden, so we make two incisions in the skin creases of the armpit and two incisions along each areola”.

This method is known as a bilateral axillo-breast approach (BABA). Access is done by means of 4 approaches: 2 in the armpits and 2 in the areoles of both breasts. “We make a small incision at each of the access points: at the edge of the areola of 1 cm and in the axillary crease of 0.5 cm. This enables us to create the subcutaneous tunnels and introduce the camera and the necessary instruments,” says Dr Mercader, emphasising that the dissection is completely subcutaneous, so that the breast does not suffer any damage. The scar resulting from the process is invisible.

Thyroidectomy using the BABA technique does not imply any additional complications. “It is as safe as open surgery, therefore the complications that can arise are the same: lesion of recurrent nerves and parathyroid glands, both with meagre rates in the hands of the specialised surgical team,” says Dr Mercader.

“Vithas International is the only private medical centre in Spain that offers this type of surgical approach, whose main advantage is the absence of visible scarring. Furthermore, according to the specialist, “patients report a very good sense of comfort in the immediate postoperative period and tend to commence with premature mobilisation”. Vithas International is a part of the Vithas health group, which has 19 hospitals and 29 medical centres in Spain.

A technique imported from the USA

Dr Enrique Mercader and his team have trained in this technique at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York (USA) with Dr Shu, a specialist in endocrine surgery of Korean origin trained in Boston and Korea.

For now, this type of surgical approach is used in patients with benign pathologies: multinodular goitre or patients with thyroid nodules. However, as the specialist explains, “the idea is to expand the clinical indications. Currently, in the United States, they perform more complex processes, such as extensive cervical lymphatic emptying and more extensive oncological surgery.”

In the future, it is proposed to as well incorporate other endoscopic techniques that also prevent cervical scarring, such as the transoral route surgery.

The Vithas Promise: high quality accredited healthcare, personal service and long term commitment

Vithas is the first healthcare operator with 100 por ciento Spanish capital. Its strategic commitment is defined by supporting the healthcare with the standards of quality accreditation of the highest international prestige, the Joint Commission International. Only 14 prestigious hospitals in Spain have such accreditation and recognition, and two of them are part of Vithas, in Madrid and Malaga. Each year Vithas cares for more than 5.000.000 patients in its 19 hospitals and 29 medical centres called Vithas Salud. The 48 centres are distributed throughout the country and include hospitals in Alicante, Almeria, Benalmadena, Castellon, Granada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lleida, Madrid, Malaga, Sevilla, Tenerife, Vigo, Valencia and Vitoria- Gasteiz. The 29 Vithas Salud centres are located in Alicante, Almuñecar, Elche, El Ejido, Fuengirola, Granada, La Estrada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lleida, Madrid, Malaga, Marin, Nerja, Pontevedra, Rincon de la Victoria, Sanxenxo, Sevilla, Torre del Mar, Torremolinos, Vilagarcia, and Vitoria-Gasteiz. Vithas also counts upon more than 300 extraction points spread throughout Spain thanks to its network of Vithas Lab laboratories. Its own central purchasing office, PlazaSalud24, as a leader in the sector, provides service to 39 hospitals, 35 medical centres and 20 dental clinics.

Vithas has a strategic agreement with a hospital leader in the Balearic Islands, the Juaneda Healthcare Network, which has 5 hospitals and a wide network of medical centres throughout the region.

Vithas' commitment to accredited quality healthcare and personalised service goes hand in hand with the firm support and long-term vision of Vithas' shareholders: Goodgrower, who control 80 por ciento of the capital, and the' La Caixa' group, with the remaining 20 por ciento. With a growth model based on geographical diversification and sustainability, Vithas plans to continue consolidating its national presence both by opening new centres and through acquisitions and strategic agreements.