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Scand Cardiovasc J. 2017 Aug;51(4):228-232. doi: 10.1080/14017431.2017.1316419. Epub 2017 Apr 17.

Recurrence rate after thoracoscopic surgery for primary spontaneous pneumothorax.

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a Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery , Karolinska University Hospital , Stockholm , Sweden.
b Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery , Karolinska Institutet , Stockholm , Sweden.



There is an on-going discussion regarding the recurrence rate after surgery for primary spontaneous pneumothorax by video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) or by thoracotomy access. This study aimed to describe the recurrence rate, and to identify a possible learning curve, following surgery for primary spontaneous pneumothorax by VATS.


All patients who underwent surgery for primary spontaneous pneumothorax by VATS at Karolinska University Hospital 2004-2013 were reviewed. Preoperative and operative characteristics were obtained from medical records. Patients were followed-up through telephone interviews or questionnaires and by review of medical records. The primary outcome of interest was time to recurrence of pneumothorax requiring intervention. Outcomes were compared between patients operated during 2004-June 2010 and July 2010-2013.


219 patients who underwent 234 consecutive procedures were included. The mean follow-up times were 6.3 and 2.9 years in the early and late period, respectively. The postoperative recurrence rate in the early period was 16% (11%-25%), 18% (12%-27%), and 18% (12%-27%), at 1, 3 and 5 years, compared to 1.7% (0.4%-6.8%), 7.6% (3.7%-15%), and 9.8% (4.8%-19%) at 1, 3 and 5 years, in the late period (p = 0.016).


We found that the recurrence rate after thoracoscopic surgery for primary spontaneous pneumothorax decreased significantly during the study period. Our results strongly suggest that thoracoscopic surgery for pneumothorax involve a substantial learning curve.


Primary spontaneous pneumothorax; learning curve; recurrence rate; video assisted thoracic surgery

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