Resection and perfusion thermochemotherapy: a new approach for the treatment of thymic malignancies with pleural spread

Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Aug;72(2):366-70. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(01)02786-2.


Background: Thymoma and thymic carcinoma with pleural spread have a high rate of locoregional recurrence and poor prognosis. Maximal debulking coupled with aggressive local treatment could offer a chance for cure. This study evaluates the early and midterm results of operation and hyperthermic pleural perfusion with cisplatinum for thymic malignancies.

Methods: Fifteen patients (11 men), 20 to 67 years old (10 thymoma, 4 thymic carcinoma, 1 carcinoma in thymic cyst) underwent resection and hyperthermic pleural perfusion between 1995 to 2000. All had pleural spread proven before or intraoperatively. Six of the thymoma cases were recurrent. Current operation included resection without pleurectomy (9 patients), resection with pleurectomy (5), and extrapleural pneumonectomy (1 patient) with intraoperative hyperthermic pleural perfusion in all. Intrapleural temperature reached 40.3 degrees C to 43 degrees C. The total dose of cisplatinum was 150 mg or more in 14 patients.

Results: Complete resection (R0) was achieved in 10 patients, subtotal (R1) in 3, and partial (R2) in 2. There was no operative mortality, no hemodynamic or respiratory disturbances during perfusion, and no hematologic, neurologic, or renal complications. Complications consisted of significant bleeding (2 patients), fever (2), and air leak (1 patient). Two patients with thymic carcinoma died after 27 and 34 months, and 1 is alive with no evidence of disease at 54 months. Two patients with thymoma died after 7 and 36 months. Eight are alive after 9 to 70 months. Four patients (all R0) are alive without local recurrence more than 60 months after operation and hyperthermic pleural perfusion.

Conclusions: Operation and thermochemotherpy is feasible and safe in patients with thymic tumors. This method seems to offer excellent local control for patients with stage IV-a thymic malignancies. Midterm results suggest that operation plus hyperthermic pleural perfusion may lengthen survival in stage IV-a thymoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Chemotherapy, Cancer, Regional Perfusion*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Pleural Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Pleural Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Reoperation
  • Survival Rate
  • Thymectomy*
  • Thymoma / drug therapy
  • Thymoma / secondary*
  • Thymoma / surgery
  • Thymus Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Thymus Neoplasms / surgery


  • Cisplatin