The diagnosis efficacy and safety of video-assisted thoracoscopy surgery (VATS) in undefined interstitial lung diseases: a retrospective study

J Thorac Dis. 2013 Jun;5(3):283-8. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2013.04.12.


Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of lung biopsies by video-assisted thoracoscopy surgery (VATS) in the diagnosis of undefined interstitial lung disease (ILD).

Patients and methods: The retrospective analysis was performed in 32 who patients underwent VATS for the diagnosed with ILD from Jan 2007 to Dec 2011. The main reason for VATS for all the patients was due to no specific diagnosis could be obtained after non-invasive methods, transbronchial lung biopsy (TBLB) examination and the consultation with pulmonologist, radiologist and pathologist. The clinical profiles, chest high resolution computerized tomography (HRCT), laboratory profile, TBLB as well as the diagnosis of before and after the VATS were analyzed. The surgery site, biopsy number, duration of the thoracic drain, post-operative complications were also recorded. The 30- and 90-day post-operative mortality rates were calculated. The risk factors associated with the incidence of post-operative complications were assessed.

Results: The specific diagnosis could be established in all patients after VATS lung biopsies, with change from previous ones in 27 (84.4%). Among 20 cases (62.5%) diagnosed as unclassified ILD before the surgery, 14 (70.0%) were diagnosed as nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP), 3 (15.0%) as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and 3 (15.0%) as connective tissue disease-related ILD (CTD-ILD). Among the 7 cases with complete change of diagnosis after VATS, 4 (57.1%) were cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (COP). The number of site of biopsy had no significant impact on the diagnostic efficacy. There were no significant change of vital sign and lung function after the VATS. 21 (65.6%) patients had post-operative complications, including pulmonary infection (56.3%), pulmonary atelectasis (28.1%) and pneumothorax (25.0%). The 30- and 90-day mortality rates were 0 and 5.2% respectively. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on the incidence of post-operative complications, and no significant difference was found in regards to the age, body mass index (BMI), smoking index, lung function, anesthesia method, duration of remaining the thoracic drain and the use of immunosuppressive drugs or steroids.

Conclusions: VATS is a safe and effective procedure for the diagnosis of ILD which were unclassified after routine evaluation, transbronchial lung biopsy and consultation with pulmonologist, radiologist and pathologist.

Keywords: Video-assisted thoracoscopy surgery (VATS); diagnostic efficacy; interstitial lung disease (ILD); safety.