Objective: The aim of the present study was to evaluate of the feasibility of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) wedge resections in an outpatient setting using a digital air leak detection device.
Patients and methods: Data from all patients who underwent outpatient VATS wedge resections from November 2010 to November 2013 was analyzed. The thoracoscopic approach was done in all cases under general anesthesia, with double lumen intubation, three port sites and one or two wedge resections without the reinforcement of the suture line. The chest-drain with continuous suction (-20 cm/H2O) placed after surgery was removed when no air leak (0-10 ml/min) was detected digitally within two hours after surgery. Patients were discharged after exclusion of pneumothorax by chest x-ray. Patient distribution according to gender, smoking habit, indication for resection, number of wedge resections, and histological findings was compared.
Results: In the study period, 66 VATS patients (44.3%) of al VATS procedures were eligible for the outpatient procedure. Fifty-five of them (83.3%) were discharged on the same day, while 11 were admitted due to patients preference, presence of an air leak or for other medical reasons. In the outpatient group (OG) the indications for surgery were lung nodules in 90.9% (50 cases) and interstitial disease in the remaining 9.1%. In the OG, 18 patients (32.7%) received two wedge resections. All patients had no leak detected by digital device prior to drainage removal. The overall re-admission rate was 7.3% (4/55). Statistical analysis did not show any difference regarding sex, smoking habits, indications for surgery, number of parenchymal resection, disease localization, and malignant histology. All patients who had an outpatient procedure confirmed that they would repeat the procedure.
Conclusions: Outpatient thoracoscopic non-anatomic resections managed with a digital chest drain device have both low complication rates as well as lead to fewer re-admissions. Because of the growing number of VATS Wedge Resections due to pre-identified lung nodules, this could have important implications. Further research should identify the most suitable subgroup of patients for this approach.