Study objectives: With the improvements in video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, more older patients and patients with respiratory impairments are undergoing bulla ablation using new and costly technology. We evaluated the cost-effective technique of thoracoscopic endoloop ligation of bullae in patients with bullous emphysema.
Patients: From March 1992 through January 1996, 79 advanced age (mean age, 64 years) and oxygen dependency patients underwent thoracoscopic procedure using endoloop ligation for treatment of bullous emphysema. Clinical data were collected from chart review. Only patients with radiographically confirmed diagnosis of bullous emphysema were included in this evaluation. Thoracoscopic endoloop ligation of bulla was carried out under general anesthesia with double-lumen endotracheal tube and single-lung ventilation.
Results: Sixty-five patients (82%) exhibited subjective improvement in their symptom status at 3-month follow-up (from grade 2 or 3 to grade 1 or 2) according to the Modified Medical Research Council dyspnea scale. The mean duration of chest drainage was 6 days (range, 4 to 16 days). Average hospital stay was 9.5 days (range, 5 to 26 days). There was no postoperative death. A comparison of preoperative and postoperative functional evaluation was available in only 16 patients who showed an increase in FEV1 (from 0.85 to 1.02 L) and a decline in residual volume after operation. Complications include persistent airleak over 10 days in seven patients (8.9%), wound infection in three patients, and localized empyema in two patients. There was no recurrence after a mean follow-up of 21 months.
Conclusion: These encouraging results have shown that thoracoscopic endoloop ligation of bulla has proved to be a safe, reliable, and cost-effective technique for bullous emphysema. With careful preoperative evaluation and meticulous postoperative care, many patients could be rehabilited by endoloop litigation of the bullae.