Background: Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) major lung resection for lung cancer has been an important part of thoracic surgical training program in our institution. In this study, we compared the results of VATS major lung resection performed by surgical trainees with those performed by experienced thoracic surgeons with specialist interest in VATS.
Methods: From January 2002 to October 2006, the clinical data of 111 consecutive patients scheduled for VATS major lung resection were prospectively entered into the computerized clinical management system of the local health authority; these include patient demographics, comorbidity, operating time, postoperative complications, and outcome. We retrospectively compared the data of patients who were operated on by trainees with those who were operated on by experienced VATS surgeons.
Results: One hundred and eleven patients with clinical stage I and II lung cancer underwent VATS major lung resection. Fifty-one (46%) of the procedures were performed by consultant surgeons and 60 VATS lung resections (54%) were performed by supervised trainees. Patients' demography and risk factors were comparable between the two groups. Trainees spent more time in performing the operation as compared with experienced VATS surgeons (mean operating time 162 minutes, p = 0.01). There was no significant difference in intraoperative or postoperative complications and outcomes between the two groups.
Conclusions: Video-assisted thoracic surgery major lung resection for early stage nonsmall-cell lung cancer can be taught to residents who work under the supervision of experienced VATS surgeons. Video-assisted thoracic surgery major lung resection for lung cancer should be an integral part of thoracic surgical training program.