Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery management of spontaneous pneumothorax--long-term results

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2011 Jul;40(1):120-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2010.10.012. Epub 2010 Nov 27.


Objective: Although widely adopted, there is lack of immediate and long-term follow-up data for patients undergoing video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) management of pneumothorax. Therefore, we have reviewed our experience with both primary (PSP) and secondary (SSP) spontaneous pneumothorax to assess the perioperative outcomes and long-term efficacy associated with different VATS operative strategies.

Methods: A retrospective case series review was undertaken on all patients undergoing VATS procedures for PSP or SSP over a 17-year period.

Results: A total of 644 VATS pneumothorax procedures were performed between 1992 and 2008 on 569 patients, of which 550 procedures were performed for PSP and 94 for SSP. Mean age for PSP and SSP groups were 28.4 ± 10.4 and 58.2 ± 14.2 years, respectively. Surgical technique used bullectomy in combination with abrasion (273), poudrage (246) and pleurectomy (46). Isolated poudrage was used in 72 cases. Median postoperative stay was 3 and 4 days, respectively. Major complications occurred in 25 (4.6%) PSP and 18 (19.2%) SSP patients. Two patients in the SSP group died (2.1%). Median follow-up was 73 months. Freedom from further surgery for the two populations was PSP: 98.1% at 5 years (confidence interval (C.I.): 96.9-99.4) and 97.8% at 10 years (C.I.: 96.5-99.2); SSP: 96.1% at 5 years (C.I.: 91.5-1.006) and 96.1% at 10 years (C.I.: 91.5-1.006). Freedom from further operation at 10 years was independent of the pleurodesis technique employed: abrasion 96.4%, poudrage 98.9% and pleurectomy 97.5% (p=0.22).

Conclusions: VATS management of both PSP and SSP offers good short-term results and excellent long-term freedom from repeat surgery. In combination with bullectomy, results of abrasion and poudrage do not significantly differ from pleurectomy. We recommend abrasion for pleurodesis in young patients reserving poudrage for the elderly. Pleurectomy may not be necessary.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blister / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleura / surgery
  • Pleurodesis / methods
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / adverse effects
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult