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World J Surg. 1999 Nov;23(11):1133-6.

Thoracoscopic surgery for spontaneous pneumothorax.

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  • 1Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung Medical College, 199 Tun-Hwa North Road, Taipei, Taiwan.


Spontaneous pneumothorax in apparently healthy individuals is a relatively common occurrence. The management of patients with spontaneous pneumothorax remains controversial. With the advances in thoracoscopic techniques and instrumentation, video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is now accepted by many as the procedure of choice for surgical treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax. We report our combined experience with 757 patients who suffered from recurrent or persistent spontaneous pneumothorax treated by VATS over a 5-year period. Surgical indications included persistent air leak (n = 165), recurrence (n = 325), radiologically demonstrated huge bulla (n = 12), spontaneous hemopneumothorax (n = 13), incomplete expansion of the lung (n = 212), and bilateral involvement (n = 30). Several surgical procedures were undertaken, based on the thoracoscopic findings: endoscopic stapled bullectomy (n = 312), argon beam coagulation (n = 6), endoscopic suturing (n = 52), and endoloop ligation (n = 352). In 49 cases, mechanical or chemical pleurodesis was the only procedure performed. There were no mortalities or intraoperative hazards. Complications consisted of wound infections (n = 16), localized empyema (n = 2), chest wall bleeding (n = 1), and persistent air leaks (bulla type III) (n = 31). The median duration of the operation was 55 minutes (15-160 minutes), and the average postoperative hospital stay was 4.5 days (range 0-27 days). There were 16 recurrences (2.1%), after a mean follow-up of 30 months (range 1-60 months). Seven patients had recurrence from 9 to 17 months after stapled bullectomy. All the remaining patients had recurrence after failed pleurodesis. On the basis of our results, we conclude that video-assisted thoracoscopic management allows effective, safe performance of standard surgical procedures, avoiding a formal thoracotomy incision. We consider thoracoscopy the treatment of choice for patients with pneumothorax requiring surgical therapy.

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