Cervical mediastinoscopy is an important diagnostic and staging technique. Limited operative field and visibility have traditionally made it a difficult procedure to learn and supervise. Video assisted techniques can aid training in the procedure. We designed a prospective study to assess video assisted mediastinoscopy (VAM) as a training tool in general thoracic surgical trainees.
43 patients were operated upon by two trainees during their initial formation in general thoracic surgery (25 patients in 15 months, and 18 patients in 9 months respectively). Indications were: staging (n=23), diagnosis of enlarged mediastinal nodes (n=14), and diagnosis/staging (n=6). Endpoints of the study: operative time, need of consultant assistance during procedures, and ability of the trainee to identify all nodal stations independently.
There were no complications. The mean operative time was 29 (range 18–51) minutes. Valid histological samples were obtained in all cases. There were no false negative results in the 13 patients who underwent subsequent lung resection (sensitivity 100%). Operative Time (R2=0.83 and 0.77), need for consultant assistance (R2=0.98 and 0.94), and failure to independently reach all nodal stations (R2=0.95 and 0.94) significantly decreased with experience in both trainees’ cases (cubic curve fit; p<0.001 throughout).CONCLUSIONS: VAM permits a rapid learning and adequate supervision of the technique without compromising safety, operative time or completeness of the procedure. The main advantages are: increased visual field, image magnification, adequate light source and the ability to use two instruments simultaneously.
VAM should be the technique of choice in thoracic surgical teaching units
A.E. Martin-Ucar, None.