Our Minimally Invasive Approaches 

University of Chicago Medicine otolaryngologists — ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists — have been using minimally invasive surgery to diagnose and treat ENT problems for many years, long before the term became popular.

Head and neck disorders are well suited for minimally invasive approaches. Many procedures can be performed through natural openings in the ear, nasal and throat passages, which offer an entryway for the sophisticated, thin instruments used in these procedures. These types of procedures result in less tissue damage, a faster recovery, less pain and less scarring than surgeries performed through open incisions. Some minimally invasive ENT procedures require small external incisions, but our specialists work to keep scarring to a minimum.

Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) for Head and Neck Cancers

TORS is an innovative, less invasive treatment option to remove some types of head and neck cancers through the mouth, including many related to human papilloma virus (HPV). Traditionally, surgeons have had to remove these cancers with more invasive approaches (such as by splitting the jaw or throat). TORS may help patients achieve a quicker recovery and potentially better functional outcomes.

Image-Guided Surgery

Minimally invasive sinus and related procedures performed at UChicago Medicine are done with the help of a revolutionary imaging tool called the ENTrak that enables our surgeons to perform 3-D image-guided surgery. This advanced computerized imaging method uses CT scans (X-rays) of the patient's head and neck to build a three-dimensional picture of the patient's anatomy. This gives the surgeon a more detailed look at sinus structures during surgery, allowing for more complete removal of disease and fewer complications. Not all hospitals have this state-of-the-art technology.

Alternatives to Surgery

Our specialists are often able to treat ENT conditions without surgery. In many cases, medications, speech-language therapy or hearing devices can successfully treat problems. Our approach is to offer comprehensive, "multimodality treatment," which combines a variety of medical and surgical techniques to care for our patients.

Potassium Titanyl Phosphate (KTP) Laser Procedure

The KTP laser is also known as a "photoangiolytic" laser, meaning it targets the blood vessels of the cancer while preserving the healthy tissue underneath the cancer. Under a microscope, the laser gradually removes the cancer layer-by-layer until healthy tissue is reached. This allows for maximum preservation of the normal, healthy vocal cord tissue and can be an effective alternative to standard radiation therapy.

Our Surgeons

UChicago Medicine otolaryngologists are board-certified experts in otolaryngology — head and neck surgery. Our surgeons have extensive expertise in treating complex and high-risk ENT problems using minimally invasive techniques. These physicians collaborate with each other and other UChicago Medicine specialists to provide comprehensive care for even the most challenging cases.