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Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2014 Jan;18(1):7-12. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivt440. Epub 2013 Oct 20.

Three-dimensional surgical simulation-guided navigation in thoracic surgery: a new approach to improve results in chest wall resection and reconstruction for malignant diseases.

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Thoracic Surgery Unit, S. Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy.



Oncological surgery of the chest wall should be performed to achieve free margins of at least 2 cm for metastasis or 4 cm for primary tumours. When the lesion is not visible or palpable, difficulty in identification may lead to a larger incision and a resection wider than is necessary.


We report three cases of non-palpable metastatic chest wall lesions in which the preoperative surgical planning and the intraoperative identification of the tumour, and thus the subsequent chest wall reconstruction, was supported using computer-based surgery.


The application of high-resolution three-dimensional imaging technology and navigational systems is used in preoperative surgical planning to provide virtual simulations of a patient's skeletal changes and new soft tissue profile. Intraoperatively, a mobile navigation probe was used to identify the lesion, matching surgical landmarks and the preoperative computed tomography imaging, achieving the radical resection of the tumour with correct but not excessive surgical margins. Two patients underwent partial sternectomy followed by sternal allograft reconstruction. The third patient underwent chest wall resection followed by reconstruction using titanium bars and vicryl mesh. In all cases, the postoperative period was uneventful. After a follow-up period of 13.9 and 8 months, respectively, all patients are disease free, without complications.


Application of navigation technology in thoracic surgery should be encouraged because it is easy to use and requires a limited learning curve.


Chest wall; Computed-aided surgery; Simulation-guided navigation; Sternal transplantation; Thoracic surgery; Virtual surgery simulation

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