Minimally invasive management for first and recurrent pneumothorax

Ann Thorac Surg. 1998 Aug;66(2):592-9.


Minimally invasive techniques for treatment of pneumothorax should yield the standard of results set with open procedures: the operative morbidity should remain less than 15%, and the recurrence rate less than 1%. In the era before video-assisted thoracic surgery, two minimally invasive variants were used. Chemical pleurodesis resulted in an unsatisfactory recurrence rate of at least 15%. In contrast, pleurectomy and apical stapling performed through a transaxillary minithoracotomy compared favorably with larger thoracotomy approaches, and allowed a reduced hospital stay. Evaluation of video-assisted thoracic surgical operations for spontaneous pneumothorax is hampered by a lack of controlled studies. The general impression is that morbidity did not decline significantly; the main determinant of complications is the patient's underlying health status. However, published recurrence rates range from 5% to 10%, in spite of a shorter follow-up time span. Optimized results are achieved when classic principles combining apical wedge resection and pleurodesis are applied. Reduction of hospital stay is not only a result of the new technology, but also changing drainage and discharge policies. Reduction of cost is debatable, because many studies do not consider the cost of video equipment. The main advantage when compared with open thoracotomy is reduction of postoperative pain. The only two available controlled studies conclude that there is no obvious advantage of video-assisted thoracic surgery when compared with conventional limited-access surgery. The future role of video-assisted thoracic surgery in this disease remains to be determined by a large-scale prospective evaluation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures* / economics
  • Pleurodesis / methods
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Video Recording