Background: The role of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) in trauma has yet to be established. Up to the time of this writing, reviews of thoracoscopy in trauma have been primarily descriptive rather than analytic. This article analyzes the results of thoracoscopy (nonvideo and VATS) in trauma.
Methods: Analysis was done by reviewing 28 nonoverlapping studies since the introduction of thoracoscopy in 1910, with a combined total of more than 500 patients.
Results: Diagnostically, thoracoscopy has been used primarily to evaluate diaphragmatic injury, continued chest tube bleeding, and suspected cardiac injury. Thoracoscopy has a 98% (188/191 patients) accuracy rate in diagnosing diaphragmatic injuries. Therapeutically, thoracoscopy has been used primarily to control chest tube bleeding, evacuate retained hemothoraces, and evacuate empyemas. Thoracoscopy is 90% (89/99 patients) effective in evacuating retained hemothoraces, 86% (19/22 patients) effective in evacuating empyemas, and 82% (33/40 patients) effective in controlling chest tube bleeding. Thoracoscopy benefits include preventing 62% (323/514) of trauma patients from having a thoracotomy or laparotomy. Risks include a 2% (11/534 patients) procedure-related complication rate and a 0.8% (4/471 patients) missed injury rate. Technical failure rates are 10% (10/99 patients) and 4% (7/199 patients) in evacuation of retained hemothoraces and evaluation of diaphragmatic injuries, respectively.
Conclusions: Analysis suggests that thoracoscopy (nonvideo and VATS) can be applied safely and effectively in the care of the injured patient.