Flexible Thoracoscopy may Facilitate Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Lobectomy
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Video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy was introduced in the early 1990s but has not yet gained widespread acceptance. The VATS approach is still controversial although several studies suggest less postoperative morbidity compared with open thoracotomy. Nevertheless, some patients report long-lasting chest wall pain following VATS procedures, and, in theory, such pain may be related to intercostal nerve injury. The present study presents our experience with a commercially available flexible thoracoscope.
The study was designed as a case-control series of prospectively collected data to determine if performing VATS with a flexible thorascope could have benefits for both the patient and the surgeon.
During the last 24 months 128 of 274 consecutive lobectomies (47%) were scheduled as VATS procedures with a new flexible high-definition thoracoscope. Six operations (4.6%) were converted to open surgery but only one case was converted during the last 12 months. There was no hospital mortality. The median duration of the operation was 105 min (range: 50–289 min), and the median postoperative hospital stay was 4 days (range: 2–27 days). At routine follow-up 2 weeks postoperatively all but three patients (2%) were considered pain free, which was significantly less than in 15 consecutive VATS lobectomies with rigid thoracoscopy performed prior to the introduction of flexible VATS (p = 0.02).
Video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy by flexible thoracoscopy is feasible and in our opinion easier and safer compared with rigid thoracoscopy. In our experience all parts of the operation are better visualized and many surgical pitfalls may be avoided. Even during early phases of setting up the VATS lobectomy program, the duration of the operation is comparable with open surgery, and postoperative pain is low, possibly because porthole angulation is minimized.
KeywordsAnalgesic Medication Mediastinal Lymph Node Station Thoracoscopic Wedge Resection Standard Posterolateral Thoracotomy Lobectomy Procedure
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