VATS biopsy for undetermined interstitial lung disease under non-general anesthesia: comparison between uniportal approach under intercostal block vs. three-ports in epidural anesthesia

J Thorac Dis. 2014 Jul;6(7):888-95. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2014.07.06.


Objective: Video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) biopsy is the gold standard to achieve diagnosis in undetermined interstitial lung disease (ILD). VATS lung biopsy can be performed under thoracic epidural anesthesia (TEA), or more recently under simple intercostal block. Comparative merits of the two procedures were analyzed.

Methods: From January 2002 onwards, a total of 40 consecutive patients with undetermined ILD underwent VATS biopsy under non-general anesthesia. In the first 20 patients, the procedures were performed under TEA and in the last 20 with intercostal block through a unique access. Intraoperative and postoperative variables were retrospectively matched.

Results: Two patients, one from each group, required shift to general anesthesia. There was no 30-day postoperative mortality and two cases of major morbidity, one for each group. Global operative time was shorter for operations performed under intercostal block (P=0.041). End-operation parameters significantly diverged between groups with better values in intercostal block group: one-second forced expiratory flow (P=0.026), forced vital capacity (P=0.017), oxygenation (P=0.038), PaCO2 (P=0.041) and central venous pressure (P=0.045). Intraoperative pain coverage was similar. Significant differences with better values in intercostal block group were also experienced in 24-hour postoperative quality of recovery-40 questionnaire (P=0.038), hospital stay (P=0.033) and economic expenses (P=0.038). Histology was concordant with radiologic diagnosis in 82.5% (33/40) of patients. Therapy was adjusted or modified in 21 patients (52.5%).

Conclusions: Uniportal VATS biopsies under intercostal block can provide better intraoperative and postoperative outcomes compared to TEA. They allow the indications for VATS biopsy in patients with undetermined ILD to be extended.

Keywords: Interstitial lung disease (ILD); lung biopsy; video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).