Purpose: A study was undertaken to evaluate the validity and efficacy of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for the diagnosis of indeterminate pulmonary nodules.
Materials and methods: Between April 2001 and November 2004, 57 adult patients (31 males, 26 females) with a clinical diagnosis of pulmonary nodules by preoperative chest computed tomographic (CT) scanning were included in this study.
Results: A definitive tissue diagnosis was obtained in all 57 patients. The mean age of the patients was 66+/-9.8 yrs. The mean size of the tumor was 1.76+/-0.67 cm. 38 patients (67%) had malignant disease. Twenty eight patients (49%) had primary lung cancer and 10 patients (18%) had metastatic lung cancer from an extrathoracic primary neoplasm. The rate of malignancy was 65% in the tumor sizes equal to or less than 2 cm. Among primary lung cancer, most patients had primary adenocarcinoma (24 cases)(86%). Pathologic staging showed T1N0 (stage IA) in 18 cases (69%), T2N0 (stage IB) in 4 cases (15%), T2N1 (stage IIB) in 1 case (4%), and T1N2 (stage IIIA) in 3 cases (12%). In 10 patients (18%) who required preoperative placement of a localization hookwire with a string near the nodule, the rate of malignancy was 70%. In 7 patients with positive positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), the rate of malignancy was 57% and proved to be falsely positive in 3 cases (43%). There was no operative mortality and no significant morbidity in all cases.
Conclusion: We proposed that VATS, which is safe and offers virtually 100% sensitivity and specificity, should be performed for most small (<3 cm in diameter) and all indeterminate pulmonary lesions on the basis of these results.