Background: The National Emphysema Treatment Trial, a randomized trial comparing lung volume reduction surgery with medical therapy for severe emphysema, included randomized and nonrandomized comparisons of the median sternotomy and video-assisted thoracoscopic approaches for lung volume reduction surgery.
Methods: Lung volume reduction surgery was performed by median sternotomy only at 8 centers and video-assisted thoracoscopy only at 3 centers; 6 centers randomized the approach to lung volume reduction surgery. Mortality, morbidity, functional status, and costs were assessed.
Results: In the nonrandomized comparison, 359 patients received lung volume reduction surgery by median sternotomy, and 152 patients received lung volume reduction surgery by video-assisted thoracoscopy. The 90-day mortality was 5.9% for median sternotomy and 4.6% for video-assisted thoracoscopy (P =.67). Overall mortality was 0.08 deaths per person-year for median sternotomy and 0.10 deaths per person-year for video-assisted thoracoscopy (video-assisted thoracoscopy-median sternotomy risk ratio, 1.18; P =.42). Complication rates were low and not statistically different for the 2 approaches. The median hospital length of stay was longer for median sternotomy than for video-assisted thoracoscopy (10 vs 9 days; P =.01). By 30 days after surgery, 70.5% of median sternotomy patients and 80.9% of video-assisted thoracoscopy patients were living independently (P =.02). Functional outcomes were similar for median sternotomy and video-assisted thoracoscopy at 12 and 24 months. Costs for the operation and the associated hospital stay and costs in the 6 months after surgery were both less for video-assisted thoracoscopy than for median sternotomy (P <.01 in both cases). Similar results were noted for the randomized comparison.
Conclusions: Morbidity and mortality were comparable after lung volume reduction surgery by video-assisted thoracoscopy or median sternotomy, as were functional results. The video-assisted thoracoscopic approach to lung volume reduction surgery allowed earlier recovery at a lower cost than median sternotomy.