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J Thorac Dis. 2014 Sep;6(9):1230-8. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2014.07.23.

Risk factors for postoperative complications after lung resection for non-small cell lung cancer in elderly patients at a single institution in China.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Beijing Chest Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 101149, China.



The purpose of this study was to assess the postoperative complications after lung resection for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in elderly patients and to identify possible associated risk factors.


All patients aged 70 years or older who underwent pulmonary resection for NSCLC by either an open approach or by a thoracoscopic approach between January 2003 and December 2013 at our institution were reviewed. Postoperative events were divided into minor and major complications. Risk factors for complications were assessed by univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis. A matched case-control study was performed to determine if the utilization of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for lung resection for NSCLC in elderly patients' results in decreased complications compared with thoracotomy.


During the study period, 476 consecutive patients (410 thoracotomy, 66 thoracoscopy) older than 70 years underwent resection for NSCLC. Postoperative complications occurred in 169 patients (35.5%) and the overall operative mortality was 2.3% (11 patients). Univariate predictors of complications included history of smoking (P=0.032), CCI scores ≥3 (P<0.001), pneumonectomy (P=0.016), as well as the duration of surgery (P=0.003). After multiple logistic regression analysis, CCI scores ≥3 [odds ratio (OR) =29.95, P<0.001], pneumonectomy (OR =2.26, P=0.029) and prolonged surgery (≥180 min) (OR =1.93, P=0.003) remained the only independent risk factors. After matching based on age, gender, the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), pathologic stage, and the type of resection, there were 60 patients in each group. Patients had similar preoperative characteristics. A VATS approach resulted in a significantly lower rate of complications (25.0% vs. 43.3%, P=0.034) and a shorter median length of stay (19 days, range, 12 to 35 vs. 21 days, range, 13 to 38, P=0.013) compared with thoracotomy.


Pulmonary resection for NSCLC in patients older than 70 years shows acceptable morbidity and mortality. Postoperative complications are more likely to develop in patients with CCI scores ≥3, those who undergo pneumonectomy, and those with a prolonged surgery. Thoracoscopic minimally invasive surgery for NSCLC in elderly patients is associated with fewer complications as well as a shorter hospital stay compared with thoracotomy.


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); elderly patient; postoperative complications

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