Pulmonary Open, Robotic, and Thoracoscopic Lobectomy study: Outcomes and risk factors of conversion during minimally invasive lobectomy

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2023 Jul;166(1):251-262.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2022.10.050. Epub 2022 Nov 15.


Objective: Conversion to thoracotomy continues to be a concern during minimally invasive lobectomy. The aim of this propensity-matched cohort study is to analyze the outcomes and risk factors of intraoperative conversion during video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and robotic lobectomy (RL).

Methods: Data from consecutive lobectomy cases performed for clinical stage IA to IIIA lung cancer was retrospectively collected from the Pulmonary Open, Robotic, and Thoracoscopic Lobectomy study consortium of 21 institutions from 2011 to 2019. The propensity-score method of inverse-probability of treatment weighting was used to balance the baseline characteristics across surgical approaches. Univariate logistic regression models were applied to test risk factors for conversion. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was conducted using a stepwise model selection method.

Results: Seven thousand two hundred sixteen patients undergoing lobectomy were identified: RL (n = 2968), VATS (n = 2831), and open lobectomy (n = 1417). RL had lower conversion rate compared with VATS (3.6% vs 12.9%; P < .0001). In the multivariable regression model, tumor size and neoadjuvant therapy were the most significant risk factors for conversion, followed by prior cardiac surgery, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, VATS approach, male gender, body mass index, and forced expiratory volume in 1 minute. Conversions for anatomical reasons were more common in VATS than RL (66.6% vs 45.6%; P = .0002); however, conversions for vascular reasons were more common in RL than VATS (24.8% vs 14%; P = .01). The rate of emergency conversions was comparable between RL and VATS (0.5% vs 0.7%; P = .25) with no intraoperative mortalities.

Conclusions: Converted minimally invasive lobectomies were not associated with worse perioperative mortality compared with open lobectomy. Compared with VATS lobectomy, RL is associated with a lower probability of conversion in this propensity-score matched cohort study.

Keywords: PORTaL study; VATS lobectomy; conversion; lung cancer; outcomes; robotic lobectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Male
  • Pneumonectomy / adverse effects
  • Pneumonectomy / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / methods
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / adverse effects
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods
  • Thoracotomy / adverse effects
  • Thoracotomy / methods