Background: Although many video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomies have been performed over the 12 years since the first VATS lobectomy, controversies about the procedure remain regarding the safety and associated morbidity and mortality of that procedure. This series is reviewed to assess these issues.
Methods: Between 1992 and 2004, we performed 1,100 VATS lobectomies in 595 women (54.1%) and 505 men (45.9%), with a mean age of 71.2 years. Diagnoses were as follows: benign disease (53), pulmonary metastases (27), lymphoma (5), and lung cancer (1,015). Of the primary lung cancers, 641 (63.1%) were adenocarcinoma. With visualization on a monitor, anatomic hilar dissection and lymph node sampling or dissection were performed, primarily through a 5-cm incision without spreading the ribs.
Results: There were 9 deaths (0.8%), and none was intraoperative or due to bleeding; 932 patients had no postoperative complications (84.7%). Blood transfusion was required in 45 of 1,100 patients (4.1%). Length of stay was median 3 days (mean, 4.78). One hundred eighty patients (20%) were discharged on postoperative day 1 or 2. Conversion to a thoracotomy occurred in 28 patients (2.5%). Recurrence developed in the incisions in 5 patients (0.57%). In 2003, 89% of 224 lobectomies were performed with VATS.
Conclusions: VATS lobectomy with anatomic dissection can be performed with low morbidity and mortality rates. The risk of intraoperative bleeding or recurrence in an incision seems minimal.