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Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Oct;88(4):1086-92. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2009.05.065.

Is thoracoscopic pneumonectomy safe?

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14263, USA.



While thoracoscopic surgical lobectomy is an established operation, the safety of thoracoscopic pneumonectomy (TP) is uncertain.


From January 1, 2002, to September 30, 2008 at a comprehensive cancer center, 70 patients underwent pneumonectomy. Three patients were excluded for emergent operations. Thoracoscopic pneumonectomy was completed successfully in 24 patients and attempted in 8 others (25% conversion rate). Analysis was done on an intention-to-treat basis.


By 2008, 75% of pneumonectomy cases were planned as TP while there were no conversions to thoracotomy. There was no difference in median blood loss between patients undergoing TP versus thoracotomy (325 vs 300 mL, p = 0.52), but operations were longer (286 vs 228 minutes, p < 0.01). Median intensive care unit stay was 2 days in both groups and median hospital stay was 5.0 days in the TP group versus 6.0 days in the thoracotomy group (p = 0.28). Major complications were similar between groups. The TP reoperations were for bleeding (2), bronchopleural fistula (2), empyema (1), and chylothorax (1). The only TP death occurred in an 83-year-old patient from respiratory failure. Neither the use of adjuvant therapy nor the time between surgery and commencement of adjuvant therapy was different between groups. Conversions alone compared with patients undergoing thoracotomy were associated with a moderate increase in blood loss and intensive care unit stay, but not in any major complications.


Thoracoscopic pneumonectomy can be done safely. The availability of this option is important especially in an era of multimodality therapy as more debilitated patients present for surgical therapy.

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