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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1999 Nov;81(6):387-92.

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery for spontaneous pneumothorax--a 7-year learning experience.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, UK.



To determine the effect of increasing experience of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) in the treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax (SP) on clinical efficacy and surgical practice.


A prospective study of 180 consecutive operations in 173 patients who underwent VATS for SP by a single surgeon during a 7 year period.


118 patients, mean age 32.1 years (range 13-63 years), were treated for primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) while 55 patients, mean age 65.9 years (range 28-92 years), were treated for secondary spontaneous pneumothorax (SSP). All patients had VAT parietal pleurectomy combined in 162 (90%) patients with stapled bullectomy. At a current median experience of 2.0 years (range 0.4-6.8 years), 12 (6.6%) patients required reoperation for treatment failures within 12 months of surgery--9 patients within 30 days of VATS and 3 for late recurrent pneumothorax. Two patients (both with SSP) died within 30 days of surgery. When compared with PSP, VATS in SSP is characterized by an elderly, male predominance, a longer postoperative stay, a higher mortality rate and a lower rate of late recurrence. With increasing experience of the technique, there has been a significant decrease in treatment failures. In the treatment of PSP, both operating time and postoperative stay have decreased significantly with experience whilst the use of staple cartridges per patient has increased significantly with experience in both PSP and SSP.


There is a demonstrable 'learning curve' effect on the clinical efficacy and surgical practice of video assisted thoracoscopic surgery for spontaneous pneumothorax.

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