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World J Surg Oncol. 2013 Jul 17;11:157. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-11-157.

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery versus robotic-assisted thoracoscopic surgery in the surgical treatment of Masaoka stage I thymoma.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Shanghai Chest Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, Huaihaixi Road 241, 200030 PR China.



The purpose of this study was to compare perioperative outcomes in patients who underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery or robot-assisted thoracoscopic surgery and assess the feasibility of robotic-assisted thymectomy for the treatment of Masaoka stage I.


We evaluated the short-term outcomes of 46 patients who underwent surgery for Masaoka stage I thymoma without myasthenia gravis between January 2009 and June 2012. Of these patients, 25 received unilateral video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS group) and the rest 21 recieved unilateral robotic-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (RATS group). We evaluated the duration of surgery, amount of intraoperative blood loss, duration of chest drainage, duration of postoperative hospital stay, hospitalization costs, postoperative complications and oncological outcomes.


The duration of surgery was not significantly different between the two groups. Intraoperative blood loss volumes did not differ significantly between the VATS and RATS groups (86.8 mL and 58.6 mL, respectively; P=0.168). The postoperative hospital stay was significantly shorter in the RATS group (3.7 days vs. 6.7 days; P <0.01), and the postoperative pleural drainage volume of the RATS group was significantly less than VATS group (1.1 days vs. 3.6 days; P <0.01). No patients in the RATS group needed conversion to open surgery. However, in the VATS series, one patient had conversion to an open procedure. No surgical complications were observed except that one case had pulmonary atelectasis in the RATS group and one case developed pneumonia after surgery. Use of robot is much more expensive than video. No early recurrence was observed in both groups.


Robotic thymectomy is feasible and safe for Masaoka stage I thymoma. RATS is equally minimally invasive as VATS and results in a shorter drainage period and reduced hospital stay compared with the VATS approach.

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