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Neil S Tolley image


Neil S Tolley

MB BCh, MD, FRCS (Eng and Ed), DLO


Head and neck cancers, Otolaryngology, Robotic Surgery

Special Interests

Sinus Surgery; Paediatric ENT and rhinology




Mr Neil Tolley was the first surgeon to use the da Vinci robot in the UK for Head and Neck Surgery. He underwent training in Strasbourg (2007), Geneva (2009), Paris (2009) and Philadelphia (2009) and now routinely performs robotic surgery at the Wellington Hospital, London. He has pioneered its use in Thyroid, Parathyroid and Transoral robotic surgery and has published and presented his work both nationally and internationally.To date (Feb 2012), he's the only surgeon in the UK capable of using the da Vinci robot for Thyroid surgery. He's a charter member of the Society of Robotic Surgeons and has presented his work at both World Congresses of Robotic Surgery held in Orlando (2010) and Miami (2011).

Neil Tolley's NHS robotic work has been ethically approved. All patients are entered into a research protocol so that robotic techniques can be prospectively studied. This is important so that the advantages of robotic surgery can be scientifically evaluated. His pioneering robotic work has been published in peer reviewed journals. He routinely uses the da Vinci robot for Thyroidectomy and targeted Parathyroidectomy. His technique completely avoids a scar in the neck with no increase in hospital stay. Robotic techniques have a particular advantage in patients who scar badly, as in some dark skinned individuals. The avoidance of a neck scar is also advantageous in those patients who find it either culturally or cosmetically unacceptable to have a visible neck scar. All patients are admitted and discharged within 23 hours.

Transoral robotic surgery has been used to treat cancer particularly in the tonsil region, where the incidence has increased 3 fold over the last 10 years because of its association with HPV (human papilloma virus). Robotic techniques permit the patient to be discharged within 7 days rather than undergoing extensive surgery with jaw-splitting and free flap reconstruction requiring a stay of 3 weeks. Furthermore, outcome measures such as swallowing have been found to be superior using the robot. These new surgical techniques permit treatment to be individually tailored and such pioneering work has allowed the avoidance of chemotherapy and significantly altered radiotherapy planning in many patients. This again has reduced the morbidity and long term consequences of receiving radiotherapy.

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