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Minimally Invasive Techniques |

Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgical Non-Rib Spreading Simultaneously Stapled Lobectomy*: A More Patient-Friendly Oncologic Resection

Ralph J. Lewis, MD, FCCP; Robert J. Caccavale, MD, FCCP; Jean-Philippe Bocage, MD, FCCP; Mark D. Widmann, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ.

Correspondence to: Ralph J. Lewis, MD, FCCP, 185 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08902



Chest. 1999;116(4):1119-1124. doi:10.1378/chest.116.4.1119
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Objective: To evaluate the outcomes from a new surgical technique for lobectomy.

Patients: Two hundred fifty consecutive patients with an average age of 67.3 years underwent simultaneously stapled lobectomy.

Methods: Video-assisted thoracic surgical non-rib spreading lobectomy (VNSSL) is a new technique that has been evolving for approximately 6.5 years. During 1990, we began using video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for simple, benign diseases. Throughout 1991, VATS was applied to malignant problems, ie, mediastinal masses, staging of lymph nodes, malignant effusions, and coin lesions. As experience was acquired, more complex procedures were attempted, such as lobectomy. On September 9, 1991, our first VATS lobectomy, using anatomic hilar dissection and lymph node sampling, was performed for primary carcinoma of the lung. One year later, we performed our first VNSSL using simultaneous stapling.

Results: Currently, 400 VNSSLs have been performed. In this entire series, there have been no surgical mortality, bronchopleural fistulas, port implantations, or transfusions. Bronchial stumps have averaged 4 mm in length, and all have been microscopically negative for neoplasm. In order to evaluate long-term survival for primary carcinoma of the lung in patients with an adequate duration of follow-up, the first 250 consecutive VNSSLs have been reviewed. There were 120 male and 130 female patients ranging in age from 20 to 92 years old who had 62 right upper lobe, 20 right middle lobe, 58 right lower lobe, 63 left upper lobe, and 33 left lower lobe lobectomies, and 14 bilobectomies. The lesions consisted of 214 primary carcinomas, 8 metastatic lesions, and 28 benign problems. Seven to 18 lymph nodes could be resected during staging of the primary neoplasms. The tumors ranged in size from 1 to 9 cm, and operating times averaged 78.6 min. Hospitalization averaged 2.83 days. No patient was admitted to the ICU. Intensive monitoring or narcotic analgesia were not needed. No epidural or intercostal anesthesia was used. Complications were infrequent and minor. Most patients returned to preoperative levels of physical activity within 7 to 10 days. Overall survival at a mean of 34 months, when all stages of neoplasms were combined, is 83%. For stage I, overall survival is 92%. The cost of VNSSL is approximately 50% less than the traditional open thoracotomy.

Conclusion: VNSSL is an oncologic technique that has been clinically rewarding and economically beneficial for patients with malignant lesions. Long-term survival for primary carcinoma currently exceeds reports being published for the traditional open thoracotomy. Scientific reasons for this extraordinary survival are emerging. Complications, surgical mortality, pain, and length of stay have all been reduced. Patient recovery, comfort, and satisfaction have been extraordinary.

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