Background: The purpose of this study was to determine if the utilization of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for lobectomy for clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer in elderly patients results in decreased complications compared with lobectomy by thoracotomy (THOR).
Methods: A retrospective, matched case-control study was performed evaluating the perioperative outcomes after lobectomy by VATS versus THOR performed in elderly patients (age > or = 70 years) at a single institution. All complications were graded according to the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 3.0 (http://ctep.cancer.gov/reporting/ctc.html).
Results: Between May 1, 2002 and December 31, 2005 333 patients (245 THOR, 88 VATS) 70 years old or greater underwent lobectomy for clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer. After matching based on age, gender, presence of comorbid conditions, and preoperative clinical stage, there were 82 patients in each group. Patients had similar preoperative characteristics. A VATS approach resulted in a significantly lower rate of complications compared with THOR (28% vs 45%, p = 0.04) and a shorter median length of stay (5 days, range 2 to 20 vs 6 days, range 2 to 27, p < 0.001). No patients undergoing VATS lobectomy had higher than grade 2 complications, whereas 7% of complications in the THOR group were grade 3 or higher. There were no perioperative deaths in the VATS patients compared with an in-hospital mortality rate of 3.6% (3 of 82) for THOR patients.
Conclusions: A VATS approach to lobectomy for clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer in the elderly was associated with fewer and overall reduced severity of complications as well as a shorter hospital stay compared with thoracotomy.