Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery versus open lobectomy for primary non-small-cell lung cancer: a propensity-matched analysis of outcome from the European Society of Thoracic Surgeon database

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2016 Feb;49(2):602-9. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezv154. Epub 2015 Apr 26.


Objectives: Video-assisted thoracoscopic anatomical resections are increasingly used in Europe to manage primary lung cancer. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcome following thoracoscopic versus open lobectomy in case-matched groups of patients from the European Society of Thoracic Surgeon (ESTS) database.

Methods: All patients having lobectomy as the primary procedure via thoracoscopy [video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)-L)] or thoracotomy (TH-L) were identified in the ESTS database (January 2007 to December 2013). A propensity score was constructed using several patients' baseline characteristics. The matching using the propensity score was responsible for the minimization of selection bias. A propensity score-matched analysis was performed to compare the incidence of postoperative major complications (according to the ESTS database definitions) and mortality at hospital discharge between the matched groups. After exclusions, 28 771 patients were identified: 26 050 having thoracotomy and 2721 having thoracoscopy. Propensity score yielded two well-matched groups of 2721 patients. Numeric variables were compared by Student's t-tests and categorical variables were compared by McNemar's tests.

Results: Compared with TH-L, VATS-L was associated with a lower incidence of total complications [n = 792 (29.1%) vs 863 (31.7%), P = 0.0357], major cardiopulmonary complications [n = 316 (15.9%) vs 435 (19.6%), P = 0.0094], atelectasis requiring bronchoscopy [n = 65 (2.4%) vs 150 (5.5%), P < 0.0001], initial ventilation >48 h [n = 18 (0.7%) vs 38 (1.4%), P = 0.0075] and wound infection [n = 6 (0.2%) vs 17 (0.6%), P = 0.0218]. There was no difference in the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation between the two groups (P = 0.14). Postoperative hospital stay was 2 days shorter in the VATS-L patients (mean: 7.8 vs 9.8 days; P = 0.0003). In terms of outcome at hospital discharge, there were 27 deaths in the VATS-L group (1%) versus 50 in the TH-L group (1.9%, P = 0.0201).

Conclusions: Data from the ESTS database confirmed that lobectomy performed through VATS is associated with a lower incidence of complications compared with thoracotomy.

Keywords: Database; Lobectomy; Lung cancer; Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonectomy / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Propensity Score
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted*
  • Treatment Outcome