Limited axillary thoracotomy vs video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery for spontaneous pneumothorax

Surg Endosc. 1998 Sep;12(9):1155-8. doi: 10.1007/s004649900805.


Background: Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) has been reported to have a higher pneumothorax recurrence rate than limited axillary thoracotomy (LAT). We investigated the cause of pneumothorax recurrence after VATS by comparing surgical results for VATS and LAT.

Methods: Ninety-five patients with spontaneous pneumothorax underwent resection of pulmonary bullae by VATS (n = 51) or LAT (n = 44). Operating duration, bleeding during surgery, number of resected bullae, duration of postoperative chest tube drainage, postoperative hospital stay, postoperative complication, and pneumothorax recurrence were analyzed to compare VATS and LAT in a retrospective study.

Results: The duration of surgery, postoperative chest tube drainage, and postoperative hospital stay was significantly shorter in VATS than in LAT cases (p < 0.0005 and p < 0.005). Bleeding during surgery was significantly less in VATS than in LAT cases (p < 0.005). Numbers of resected bullae were significantly lower in VATS (2.7 +/- 2.1) than in LAT cases (3.9 +/- 2.7) (p < 0.05). Postoperative pneumothorax recurrence was more frequent in VATS (13.7%) than in LAT cases (6.8%), but there was no significant difference.

Conclusions: VATS has many advantages over LAT in treating spontaneous pneumothorax, although the pneumothorax recurrence rate in VATS cases was double that in LAT cases. The lower number of resected bullae in VATS than in LAT cases suggests that overlooking bullae in operation could be responsible for the high recurrence rate in VATS cases. We recommend additional pleurodesis in VATS for spontaneous pneumothorax to prevent postoperative pneumothorax recurrence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Endoscopy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Postoperative Care
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracoscopy*
  • Thoracotomy*
  • Video Recording