Robotic Anatomical Pulmonary Resections: An Australian Experience

Heart Lung Circ. 2024 Jan;33(1):86-91. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2023.10.014. Epub 2023 Dec 7.


Background: Robotic thoracic surgery is a minimally invasive technique that allows the surgeon to perform delicate, accurate surgical manoeuvres within the chest cavity without rib spreading. Previous studies have suggested potential benefits of the robotic platform in nodal upstaging due to its versatility, seven degrees of freedom of movement, and superior vision. However, there is currently a paucity of robust clinical data from Australia.

Aims: This study aimed to assess the perioperative safety and oncological efficacy of anatomical pulmonary resections performed using the robotic platform. Endpoints included mortality and major morbidity outcomes according to Clavien-Dindo classification and rate of pathological nodal upstaging compared with preoperative imaging using positron emission tomography.

Methods: A single-surgeon retrospective analysis was performed using data collected from two institutions from July 2021 to May 2022, after ethics committee approval. Consecutive patients who underwent anatomical robotic resections were included in the study, with subsequent analysis of patients who had confirmed primary lung cancer.

Results: A total of 52 patients underwent robotic anatomical pulmonary resection during the study period. Safety was demonstrated by 0% mortality and a 9.6% major complication rate, which was related to chest tube insertion for prolonged air leak or intensive care unit monitoring during treatment of atrial arrhythmia. After excluding patients who did not have primary lung cancer, 48 patients remained for further analysis; pathological nodal upstaging was observed in nine (18.8%) of these patients. On multivariate analysis, the total number of lymph nodes harvested was found to be a statistically significant predictor of nodal upstaging. Complete microscopic resection (R0) was achieved in 100% of patients.

Conclusions: This study represents the most extensive documentation of robotic thoracic procedures in Australia in the existing literature. It demonstrated a satisfactory safety profile with a relatively high rate of nodal upstaging, possibly reflecting the ability of the robotic instruments to perform comprehensive and complete nodal resection at the time of anatomical pulmonary resection.

Keywords: Nodal upstage; Non-small-cell lung cancer; Robotic surgery; Thoracic surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pneumonectomy / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures* / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed