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An ENT Specialist at MMC and a ROBOT at MTMC continue to make revolutionary medical advancements: Transoral Robotic Resection of Tongue Base Cancer

November 15th, 2011

Murfreesboro, TN.  Murfreesboro Medical Clinics, Dr. William Gross, has been on the forefront of using cutting edge medical technology to provide dramatic breakthrough solutions for patients seeking minimally- invasive surgical solutions. In the past year, Dr. William Gross (Otolaryngologist, ENT) at MMC has teamed up with Middle Tennessee Medical Center to perform the areas first Transoral Robotic Surgery for obstructive sleep apnea (a minimally invasive surgical solution). More recently, MMCs specialist teamed up with MTMC to perform the first Transoral Robotic Resection of Tongue Base Cancer using the da Vinci Robotic technology.

Dr. Gross, MMC Otolaryngologist, stated, The da Vinci Robotic Surgery is an amazing breakthrough for our patients and I am honored to be the first surgeon to use it in Murfreesboro for the tongue base cancer.  Because the robot can go where the human hand and eye cant, we can drastically reduce the invasiveness of head, neck and throat surgeries. This minimally-invasive procedure reduces recovery time and eliminates the need for debilitating procedures such as an external approach that would split or remove part of the jaw in order to access the throat. It also reduces extensive cosmetic and functional post-op problems.

In the past, patients with various cancers of the tongue base or tonsil were treated with major surgeries externally resulting in major cosmetic and functional complications.  In order to decrease the complications of treatment, chemoradiation became the treatment trend as it resulted in organ preservation in the throat. But this treatment still has major short and long-term complications including dry mouth, aging of the carotid artery, and difficulty swallowing. In the long term, 20 to 30% of these patients remain dependent on a feeding tube. With the da Vinci Robotic Surgery, the cancer can be removed through the mouth and preserve the ability to speak and swallow.  Most of these patients will still need a lower post-op dose of radiation, but the cure rates are as good as or better than chemoradiation alone, and the functional outcomes are much better with nearly 100% of patients maintaining the ability to speak and swallow normally. This represents a major advance in the treatment of Oropharyngeal (throat) Cancer, which is becoming increasingly common in our society. Most of the patients with Oropharyngeal cancer will present with a neck mass as their first symptom. The Otolaryngolist will usually be the one to diagnose the primary tumor location in a patient with a neck mass.
Murfreesboro Medical Clinic and Dr. William Gross are proud to partner with Middle Tennessee Medical Center on advanced technologies and procedures such as the da Vinci Robotic Surgery. We look forward to future advancements in patient care with all of our health care partners.

For more information please contact Murfreesboro Medical Clinics Director of Marketing, Kimberly Smith, at [email protected] |MMC at 615-893-4480 or visit

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