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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2003 Mar;23(3):397-402.

Long-term outcomes following VATS lobectomy for non-small cell bronchogenic carcinoma.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, Scotland EH3 9YW, UK.



Despite advantages regarding pain and muscle function, video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy is infrequently performed and is particularly controversial in bronchogenic carcinoma. We have, therefore, reviewed our experience with VATS lobectomy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in an attempt to define the long-term results of VATS lobectomy in this setting.


Patients were selected for surgery on the basis of clinical Stage I or II disease with routine use of thoracic/upper abdominal CT scanning and cervical mediastinoscopy. VATS resection was performed using the endoscopic hilar dissection technique. All related hilar nodes were cleared and supportative sampling of mediastinal stations beyond the reach of mediastinoscopy was undertaken. Perioperative data were collected prospectively and oncologic outcomes were assessed by 6 monthly census.


One hundred and fifty eight patients (mean age 66 years) underwent 159 VATS lobectomies for NSCLC between May 1992 and December 2001. One patient underwent staged bilateral resections. Twenty further procedures were uneventfully converted to open thoracotomy (rate=11.2%). The median operation time was 130 min and median operative blood loss was 60 ml. The median postoperative stay was 6 days. One patient (0.6%) died following VATS resection from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Two VATS resection patients died following discharge but within 30 days of surgery. Combined, inpatient and 30-day outpatient mortality was, therefore, 1.8%. The stage distribution for resected lesions was: Stage I, 117; II, 33 and III, 8. Mean follow-up was 38 months (range: 1-107). Tumour recurred in 36 patients presenting as local recurrence in the hilum or mediastinum in nine (25%), metastatic disease in 23 (63.9%) and unknown pattern in four (11.1%). Kaplan-Meier calculated probabilities of freedom from cancer related or associated death at 60 months were Stage I, 77.9%; II, 51.4% and III, 28.6%.


VATS lobectomy is a safe procedure which is associated with a low probability for conversion to open thoracotomy. The patterns of cancer recurrence do not suggest inadequate local clearance while the long-term survival data for Stage I NSLC cases is encouraging. We believe that this technique should become the operation of choice for early stage NSCLC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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