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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2014 May;147(5):1599-603. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2013.10.053. Epub 2013 Nov 28.

Surgical techniques for early-stage thymoma: video-assisted thoracoscopic thymectomy versus transsternal thymectomy.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Shanghai Chest Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China.
Med-X Renji Clinical Stem Cell Research Center, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.
Department of Thoracic Surgery, Shanghai Chest Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China. Electronic address:



The present study compared the outcomes between patients who had undergone video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) thymectomy and transsternal (TS) thymectomy for Masaoka stage I and II thymoma.


The outcomes of 262 patients without myasthenia gravis who had undergone surgery for Masaoka stage I and II thymoma from January 2008 to December 2012 at our center were retrospectively evaluated. The study included 125 patients who had undergone unilateral VATS thymectomy (VATS group) and 137 patients who had undergone TS thymectomy (TS group).


The VATS group had a shorter operative time than the TS group (170 vs 210 minutes, P < .001). The VATS group also had a smaller intraoperative blood loss (200 vs 450 mL, P < .001), smaller pleural drainage volume in the first 24 hours postoperatively (300 vs 500 mL, P < .0010), shorter postoperative pleural drainage duration (3 vs 5 days, P < .001), and shorter postoperative hospital stay (8 vs 10 days, P < .001). Four patients in the VATS group underwent conversion to open surgery because of injury to the innominate vein. The postoperative complication rate was similar between the 2 groups. One patient in the VATS group developed pleural recurrence, and one in the TS group developed local recurrence.


Unilateral VATS thymectomy for Masaoka stage I and II thymoma is technically feasible and safe and is less invasive than TS thymectomy, with a shorter duration of surgery, less intraoperative blood loss, less postoperative pleural drainage, shorter postoperative pleural drainage duration, and shorter postoperative hospital stay. We have concluded that it is preferable to perform VATS thymectomy, although perhaps under certain circumstances sternotomy might be preferred. The oncologic outcomes were comparable between the 2 procedures. Additional follow-up is required to evaluate the long-term outcomes.

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