Background: Video-assisted lobectomy has been adopted by many thoracic surgeons, because it is a less invasive approach to small peripheral lung cancers. However, some authors disagree that video-assisted lobectomy is less invasive than traditional thoracotomy and lobectomy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the advantages of video-assisted lobectomy over posterolateral thoracotomy and lobectomy in terms of pain-related morbidity.
Methods: A total of 70 patients with clinical T1N0M0 non-small-cell lung carcinomas underwent lobectomy with complete mediastinal lymphadenectomy. Of these 35 underwent posterolateral thoracotomy (between April 1994 and December 1995; open group), and 35 underwent video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) (between January and December 1996; VATS group).
Results: Although the operative time was significantly longer in the VATS group (p = 0.04), the intraoperative blood loss was significantly less (p = 0.03). No significant differences were found for the two groups with respect to the total number of mediastinal lymph nodes dissected or duration of chest tube drainage. Postoperative pain was less severe as determined by the number of doses of analgesics required between postoperative days 0 and 7 (p < 0.0001), and the length of postoperative hospitalization was shorter in the VATS group (p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Video-assisted lobectomy is associated with decreased postoperative pain and shortened length of postoperative hospitalization, when compared with posterolateral thoracotomy and lobectomy.