Read what other patients like you have to say about our surgeons.
From a 57-year-old woman from Washington DC who underwent a thyroid lobectomy using the daVinci Surgical System: "I have been a university professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC for the past 21 years. I had just completed twelve years serving as Chair of my department in fall 2009, and was looking forward to some time with a bit less stress, when a nodule a little larger than two centimeters was unexpectedly discovered on my left thyroid lobe. After two ultrasounds that November and the following March in which the nodule remained fairly stable in size, my internist recommended that I consult an endocrinologist for the appropriate ongoing treatment plan. That summer, the endocrinologist performed an initial needle biopsy that revealed some cellular abnormalities, and sent me to for a follow-up biopsy by a specialized cytologist, who confirmed irregular follicular neoplasm. I then underwent nuclear medicine testing, which revealed that my nodule was “cold.” Given all these results, in August 2010 the endocrinologist strongly recommended removal of at least my left thyroid lobe, given that there was a 20-25% chance that the nodule could be cancerous. He and my internist suggested several excellent ENT surgeons in the Baltimore-Washington area. Although the odds were good that my growth would be benign, it just seemed too risky not to proceed with surgery.
Having never previously had an inkling that I might have a thyroid problem, I was upset not only by the uncertain diagnosis, but also about the prospect of having an open surgery that would leave a visible scar on my neck. Not knowing where to begin and feeling the need for more information, one day I simply googled “thyroid” on my computer, and among the endless listings that came up was one that immediately intrigued me: “Da Vinci Thyroid Surgery–No Neck Scar.” In investigating this site, I learned about the very recent robot-assisted technology whereby the incision is made discreetly under the arm and the surgeon “tunnels up” to the thyroid to remove the affected portion of the gland. Via the surgeon locator available on the Da Vinci site, I learned that only a limited number of head and neck surgeons nationwide were currently performing this innovative procedure–and unfortunately none of them, as far as I could tell, practiced in the Baltimore-Washington area. As I continued internet research on the Da Vinci surgeons listed, it became clear to me that Dr. Ronald Kuppersmith of College Station, Texas–in addition to being a prize-winning physician and a high profile scholar in his field–had also conducted one of the highest, if not the highest number of these successful robotic thyroid surgeries. The web site for the pioneering Texas Institute of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery that Dr. Kuppersmith directs along with his colleague, Dr. Andrew De Jong, features an extensive and user-friendly set of documents including full bios of both surgeons, patient stories, and a detailed handbook explaining exactly what a prospective patient can expect before, during, and after Da Vinci robotic thyroid surgery. I printed and shared this information with my internist, and she enthusiastically supported and encouraged me to pursue this option. My endocrinologist and gynecologist concurred.
And so in mid-August I e-mailed Dr. Kuppersmith with a thumb-nail sketch of my situation, and was astounded to have him call back the very same day and to have a lengthy conversation with me assessing my eligibility as a candidate, explaining the risks and benefits of the surgery, and guiding me in how to proceed with scheduling the Da Vinci procedure. I was extremely impressed by Dr. Kuppersmith’s thorough, thoughtful, and understanding approach, and from that moment I was convinced that traveling to Texas to have him perform my surgery was the right decision. In the days ahead, his cordial and efficient office staff assisted me in making all the arrangements–from scheduling, to confirming insurance eligibility from the various department involved, to obtaining the proper pre-surgical tests, even to recommending medically discounted lodging in College Station.
My mid-September experience in Texas not only met but exceeded my expectations. On Monday, my husband and I were welcomed warmly by the office and hospital staff who had assisted in my planning, and during my pre-op consultation and exam, Dr. Kuppersmith patiently answered all my follow-up questions and calmed my pre-surgery nerves with his easygoing and confident manner. The surgery took place first thing Tuesday morning, and the next thing I remember after he greeted me outside the operating room is waking up back in my hospital bed a few hours later and learning that the robotic surgery had gone smoothly and, as hoped, only the left lobe of my thyroid had been removed. There is not a great deal of post-operative pain associated with this procedure: I had some soreness at the site of the incision, where a drain was also put into place for three days; I have also experienced some discomfort in the upper chest, which Dr. Kuppersmith explained to me is normative in the aftermath of the robotic “tunneling” procedure. He visited me several times in the hospital, and when my husband and I returned to our hotel, he phoned to see how I was doing and to tell me the wonderful news that my pathology report was benign! Once back at the hotel, I was already well and strong enough to go out for nice dinners with my husband, and in that Friday’s post-op appointment, Dr. Kuppersmith was able to remove the drain, and then kindly took his time with us to review how everything had gone during my week’s adventure. When I returned to Washington, I was back at my desk in a few days writing a professional paper and was able to present that paper in person at a symposium exactly three weeks to-the-day after my surgery.
It was thus truly a gift of chance that my internet musings alerted me to the possibility of Da Vinci thyroid surgery and led me to be in touch with Dr. Ron Kuppersmith, to whom I will always be grateful for his consummate professionalism and his exceptional sense of humanity. Those whose thyroid conditions can be addressed by this remarkable new type of intervention can be assured that they will receive the very best of care in his hands."
From a 52-year-old woman from Wisconsin who underwent a thyroid lobectomy using the daVinci Surgical System: "When I first found out that I needed to have thyroid surgery all I could think about was the very noticeable lifetime scar, invasiveness, and the recovery time. I decided to do some research to determine if there were any alternatives to the traditional surgery....Read more
From a 40-year-old woman from North Carolina who underwent a thyroid lobectomy using the daVinci Surgical System: "In 2008, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism from a hyperfunctioning thyroid nodule. A few months later an ultrasound guided biopsy revealed a possible follicular neoplasm, making it impossible to completely rule out thyroid cancer....Read more
From a 62-year-old woman from Huntsville, Texas who underwent a thyroid lobectomy using the daVinci Surgical System: "I was excited that my surgeon was using the robot because of the maginfication it provides improves the view during surgery. I was suprised at the low level of pain and discomfort afterwards. The plus was not having a scar on my neck after surgery."
From a 32-year-old woman from College Station, Texas who underwent a total thyroidectomy using the daVinci Surgical System: "I put off having my thyroid removed for 2 years. I was worried about the recovery time, the actual surgery, and the scar that I would have on my neck for a lifetime. When I finally decided to do the surgery....Read more
From a 32-year-old woman from Austin, Texas who underwent a thyroid lobectomy using the daVinci Surgical System: "Dr. Kuppersmith - I just wanted to say thank you for the care your provided for me. You are a wonderful doctor & surgeon. You made me feel comfortable & always had time to answer my (endless) questions. I am so happy I found you online & made the trek to College Station. I am ecstatic that I don't have a scar on my neck!!! Thanks for being innovative & traveling across the world to learn this new technique. Your nurses & office staff are excellent as well. I wish you all the best!"
From a 71-year-old man from Huntsville, Texas who underwent traditional total thyroidectomy: "When Dr. Kuppersmith recommended an operation to remove my thyroid gland, I envisioned...Read more