Introduction: Local anaesthetic video-assisted thoracoscopy (LAVAT) is a safe, reliable and therapeutic procedure used by respiratory physicians in the management of pleural disease, especially pleural malignancy. We describe a prospective analysis of a UK LAVAT service set up in a tertiary respiratory centre to complement an existing large surgical video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) service.
Methods: A prospective analysis of 125 LAVAT procedures over a 34-month period was performed looking at a variety of quality control endpoints comparing them to national thoracic surgical VATS standards.
Results: Talc pleurodesis was effective in over 86% of cases and this did not significantly lengthen bed stay (median 4.5 days). Bed stay was also unchanged between the ages of 60-89 years. Over 77% of the 48 patients with proven metastatic pleural lung malignancy or mesothelioma received either surgical decortication or oncological treatment (palliative chemotherapy in 57%). In only 6% were biopsies not possible because of technical factors. LAVAT biopsies had a diagnostic accuracy of 97.4%, sensitivity 95.4%, specificity 100%, positive predictive value 100%, and negative predictive value 94.7%. Our complication rate was 4% and mortality rate 0.8%.
Discussion: Our LAVAT service meets surgical VATS standards for diagnosis and safety with a good pleurodesis efficacy rate. It complements our surgical VATS service, offering a pleural diagnostic service for patients with non-complex pleural exudates or too frail for VATS. Our data demonstrate there is a demand and potential for respiratory physicians dealing with pleural malignancy to develop LAVAT and enhance their local lung cancer and pleural diagnostic pathway.