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Ann Thorac Surg. 2003 Oct;76(4):1009-14; discussion 1014-5.

Video-assisted thoracic surgery lobectomy for stage I lung cancer.

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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, George Washington University Medical Center, and VAMC, Washington, DC, USA.



The technique, safety, and oncologic efficacy of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy are controversial. Issues include operative time, lymph node yield, conversion to thoracotomy, resource utilization, recurrence, complications, and survival.


From January 1995 to December 2001, 179 patients underwent VATS lobectomy for preoperative stage I lung cancer (T1N0, 118 patients; T2N0, 61 patients). Mean age was 64.34 years (range, 38 to 87); 91 were female and 88 were male. Contraindications to VATS lobectomy included any suggestion of hilar, endobronchial, or central lesions. Video-assisted thoracic surgery lobectomy was performed using three ports, partial anatomic hilar dissection, and mediastinal node dissection.


Distribution of lobectomies was as follows: left upper lobe, 50 patients; left lower lobe, 27 patients; right upper lobe, 33 patients; right upper and right middle lobe, 29 patients; right middle lobe, 9 patients; right lower lobe, 30 patients; right middle lobe and right lower lobe, 1 patient. Mean operative time was 75 +/- 6 minutes. Mean lymph node yield was 11 +/- 5 nodes. Pathologic upstaging was noted in 14 of the 179 patients (7.8%). Mean hospitalization was 4.1 days (range, 2 days to 4 months). There were no conversions to thoracotomy and there was 1 death (1 of 179, 0.05%). Complications included air leak in 24 of 179 (13.4%), subcutaneous emphysema in 4 of 179 (2.2%), pneumonia in 10 of 179 (5.6%), wound infection in 5 of 179 (2.8%), respiratory failure in 3 of 179 (1.7%), pulmonary embolism in 2 of 179 (1.1%), and myocardial infarction in 1 of 179 (0.5%). At a mean follow-up of 37 months, local recurrence rate was 0.013 per person per year. Actuarial recurrence-free survival was 88% and 85% at 36 and 60 months respectively.


For carefully selected patients VATS lobectomy for early stage lung cancer is a safe and effective strategy. Long-term follow-up is required to fully evaluate recurrence and survival.

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