Axillary thoracotomy versus videothoracoscopy for the treatment of primary spontaneous pneumothorax

Ann Thorac Surg. 2004 Aug;78(2):417-20. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2003.11.038.


Background: A prospective, randomized study was carried out on patients with primary spontaneous pneumothorax, with the aim of determining if video-assisted thoracoscopy is superior to axillary thoracotomy in the surgical treatment of this condition.

Methods: Patients were randomly assigned to two groups; video-assisted thoracoscopy (group A; n = 46) and axillary thoracotomy (group B; n = 44). All fit the established criteria for surgical indication (relapse or persistent air leakage after pleural drainage). In all cases the treatment consisted of apical segmentectomy of the blebs or dystrophic complex and pleural mechanical abrasion. The study evaluated the following factors: postoperative blood loss, respiratory function (maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressures, forced expiratory volume in the first second and forced vital capacity), postoperative pain (analog visual scale), supplementary doses of analgesics, postoperative complications, hospital stay, and resumption of normal activity. Relapses were evaluated for the minimum period of time of two years.

Results: No significant differences were found in any of the factors studied in either group.

Conclusions: Video-assisted thoracoscopy and axillary thoracotomy offer similar results in the surgical treatment of primary spontaneous pneumothorax. The rate of complication is low and the level of pain is acceptable without long-term sequelae.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Axilla / surgery
  • Chest Tubes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / epidemiology
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Surgical Mesh
  • Surgical Stapling
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted*
  • Thoracotomy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics