Postoperative acute exacerbation of interstitial pneumonia (IP) is known to be a serious complication in the surgical treatment for primary lung cancer combined with IP. This retrospective study was conducted to investigate the influence of three different approaches to the thorax on postoperative acute exacerbation of IP in lung cancer patients. Forty-seven lung cancer patients who developed it underwent pulmonary resection between 1982 and 2003. Among them, approaches to the thorax consisted of posterolateral thoracotomy (PLT) (n=15), muscle-sparing thoracotomy (MST) (n=15), and video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) (n=17). Seven of 47 suffered from acute exacerbation of IP. Single variable analysis suggested that exertion dyspnea (Hugh-Jones classification), serum C-reactive protein, serum lactate dehydrogenase and total lung capacity were considered to be preoperative risk factors of acute exacerbation. As for the VATS patient, there was little frequency of postoperative complication in comparison with the other two approaches. However no significant difference was shown in the incidence of acute exacerbation between the three approaches.
Conclusion: The use of VATS did not prevent acute exacerbation of IP. However, the incidence of postoperative complications in VATS seemed to be low, therefore further trials are required.