Objective: This article describes the technique and results for an initial series of 100 pneumothoraces treated by video-assisted thoracoscopy.
Methods: From May 1991 to November 1994, 97 patients (78 male and 19 female patients) aged 37.2 +/- 17 years (range 14 to 92 years) underwent video-assisted thoracoscopy for treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax (primary in 75 patients, secondary in 22 patients).
Results: The procedure was unilateral in 94 patients and bilateral in three patients (total 100 cases). Pleural bullae were resected with an endoscopic linear stapler; a lung biopsy was performed in the absence of any identifiable lesion. Pleurodesis was achieved by electrocoagulation of the pleura (n = 3), "patch" pleurectomy (n = 3), subtotal pleurectomy (n = 20), or pleural abrasion (n = 74), including conversion to standard thoracotomy in five. One of these five patients had primary pneumothorax and four had secondary pneumothorax. There were no postoperative deaths. A complication developed in 10 patients: five patients with a primary pneumothorax (6.6%) and five with a secondary pneumothorax (27.7%). The mean postoperative hospital stay was 8.25 +/- 3.2 days. Mean follow-up is 30 months (range 7 to 49 months). Pneumothorax recurred in 3% of patients, all of whom were operated on at the start of our experience. Three percent of the patients had chronic postoperative chest pain.
Conclusions: Video-assisted thoracoscopy is a valid alternative to open thoracotomy for the treatment of spontaneous primary pneumothorax. Its role for the management of secondary pneumothorax remains to be defined. In the long term, the efficacy of video-assisted thoracoscopic pleurodesis and surgeon experience should yield the same results as standard operative therapy.