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J Am Coll Surg. 2012 Aug;215(2):206-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2012.04.016. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Factors affecting selection of operative approach and subsequent short-term outcomes after anatomic resection for lung cancer.

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  • 1Department of Surgery and Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.



Previous studies evaluating video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for lung cancer are single-institution series, suffer from small sample size, or use administrative or self-reported databases. Using a multi-institutional, standardized, and audited surgical outcomes database, our objectives were to examine preoperative factors associated with undergoing VATS vs open resection and assess subsequent perioperative outcomes.


The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Participant Use File was used to identify patients who underwent anatomic resection (eg, segmentectomy, lobectomy, and bi-lobectomy) for primary lung cancer (2005 to 2010). Multiple logistic regression models, including propensity scores, were developed to assess preoperative factors associated with undergoing VATS and the risk-adjusted association between operative approach and 30-day outcomes.


Of 2,353 patients undergoing resection, 74% underwent open thoracotomy (OT) and 26% underwent VATS. After regression for confounders, factors associated with undergoing a VATS were patient age older than 75 years (odds ratio [OR] = 1.41; 95% CI, 1.05-1.90), Hispanic ethnicity (OR = 2.52; 95% CI, 1.69-3.77), and cardiothoracic surgery training (OR = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.37-2.07). Patients undergoing OT had a higher likelihood of any adverse event developing (24% vs 14%; OR = 1.76; 95% CI, 1.35-2.29), specifically pneumonia and sepsis/septic shock. Median length of stay was significantly longer in the OT group (7 vs 4 days; p < 0.001). Mortality was not significantly different for VATS vs OT after regression for confounders.


In addition to patient factors, surgeon training can play a role in determining the operative approach offered to patients. Patients selected for VATS had a lower 30-day morbidity and shorter length of stay compared with OT anatomic resection for primary lung cancer.

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