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J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2012 Oct;22(8):753-7. doi: 10.1089/lap.2012.0095. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

Disparities in access to video-assisted thoracic surgical lobectomy for treatment of early-stage lung cancer.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.



Video-assisted thoracic surgical (VATS) lobectomy was originally described in 1992 and has slowly gained increasing acceptance. This study documents current utilization and outcomes for VATS versus open lobectomy in three Mid-Atlantic states.


Inpatient discharge claims data were queried for all lobectomies performed for cancer in the Mid-Atlantic United States (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) between October 2007 and December 2008. Associations between sociodemographic factors and likelihood of undergoing VATS were tested with multiple logistic regressions. Outcomes were compared using two-sample t tests.


There were 5489 lobectomies included. Forty-seven percent of patients were men, and 62% were ≥65 years old. Thirty-two percent (1741 of 5489) were VATS lobectomies. Men were less likely to undergo VATS (odds ratio 0.86, P=.004); those ≥65 years old were more likely to undergo VATS (odds ratio 1.34, P=.009). Uninsured patients underwent VATS less often (odds ratio 0.46, P=.01). Patients from rural areas were less likely to undergo VATS (odds ratio 0.67, P=.001), although travel distances for both groups were similar. A total of 44% of these hospitals (125 of 284) performed only open lobectomies. Patients without private insurance or Medicare were less likely to undergo a VATS lobectomy (P=0.01). In general, the likelihood of VATS lobectomy increased as hospital lobectomy volume increased. VATS patients had a shorter median length of stay (5 versus 6 days, P<.001) and a higher rate of discharge to home (92.5% versus 89.5%, P<.001). Mean total hospital costs were less for VATS patients ($49,948 versus $56,280, P<.001). In-hospital mortality was less for VATS patients (1.2% versus 2.1%, P=.013).


For the period studied, patients in rural areas, in low-volume hospitals, who had Medicaid, or with lower median incomes underwent VATS lobectomy less often.

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