Computer tomography guided thoracoscopic resection of small pulmonary nodules in the hybrid theatre

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 3;16(11):e0258896. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258896. eCollection 2021.


Purpose: Thoracic surgeons are currently asked to resect smaller and deeper lesions which are difficult to detect thoracoscopically. The growing number of those lesions arises both from lung cancer screening programs and from follow-up of extrathoracic malignancies. This study analyzed the routine use of a CT-aided thoracoscopic approach to small pulmonary nodules in the hybrid theatre and the resulting changes in the treatment pathway.

Methods: 50 patients were retrospectively included. The clinical indication for histological diagnosis was suspected metastasis in 46 patients. Technically, the radiological distance between the periphery of the lesion and the visceral pleura had to exceed the maximum diameter of the lesion for the patient to be included. A spiral wire was placed using intraoperative CT-based laser navigation to guide the thoracoscopic resection.

Results: The mean diameter of the lesions was 8.4 mm (SD 4.27 mm). 29.4 minutes (SD 28.5) were required on average for the wire placement and 42.3 minutes (SD 20.1) for the resection of the lesion. Histopathology confirmed the expected diagnosis in 30 of 52 lesions. In the remaining 22 lesions, 9 cases of primary lung cancer were detected while 12 patients showed a benign disease.

Conclusion: Computer tomography assisted thoracoscopic surgery (CATS) enabled successful resection in all cases with minimal morbidity. The histological diagnosis led to a treatment change in 42% of the patients. The hybrid-CATS technique provides good access to deeply located small pulmonary nodules and could be particularly valuable in the emerging setting of lung cancer screening.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Pulmonary Nodules / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Pulmonary Nodules / pathology
  • Multiple Pulmonary Nodules / surgery*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / pathology
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / surgery*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted*
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed

Grants and funding

No funding was received for this study.