The robotic thymectomy via the subxiphoid approach: technique and early outcomes

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2020 Aug 1;58(Suppl_1):i39-i43. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezaa006.


Objectives: Robotic thymectomy via the subxiphoid approach (RTX) is a recently introduced surgical approach. This study aimed to report on the surgical technique and early outcomes of RTX in our institute.

Methods: RTX was performed using the 3-arm technique in the da Vinci robotic surgical system. The camera was inserted into a subxiphoid port, and 2 robotic arms were inserted in bilateral intercostal ports. A complete dissection of both cervical poles up to the thyroid gland was conducted, and bilateral phrenic nerves were identified in all cases. Radical combined resection of adjacent organs, including the lung, pericardium, phrenic nerve and the innominate vein, was performed if necessary. The resected specimen could be retrieved through the subxiphoid port site.

Results: A total of 110 patients underwent RTX in our institute from October 2016 to August 2019. Thymoma was the most common diagnosis (60.9%), and the mean size of the tumours was 4.9 ± 2.4 cm. Combined resection was performed in the lung (n = 9, 8.1%), pericardium (n = 6, 5.5%) and innominate vein (n = 5, 4.5%). There were 2 minor postoperative complications (1.8%), and the mean length of hospital stay was 2.2 ± 1.4 days. For the cumulative sum curve analysis of the learning curve using operative time, 50 cases were necessary to gain proficiency.

Conclusions: RTX was a safe and feasible surgical approach, even in advanced thymic epithelial tumours. It should be considered one of the valuable surgical options in minimally invasive thymectomy.

Keywords: Minimally invasive surgical procedures; Robotics; Thymectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures*
  • Robotics*
  • Thymectomy*
  • Thymoma* / surgery
  • Thymus Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Thymus Neoplasms* / surgery