Technique to reduce air leaks after pulmonary lobectomy1

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Patients undergoing pulmonary resections often present postoperative air leaks of varying magnitude and duration; this complication is more frequent with incomplete or absent interlobar fissures. Small leaks close spontaneously within 5-7 days; larger leaks may persist longer and could be associated with increased morbidity and prolonged hospitalization. We evaluated the role of different techniques to complete interlobar fissures before pulmonary lobectomy to prevent postoperative air leaks and reduce hospital stay and costs.


A total of 30 patients undergoing pulmonary lobectomy for lung cancer and presenting incomplete interlobar fissures that needed to be opened both anteriorly and posteriorly were randomized into three groups. In Group I, fissures were created with a GIA stapler and buttressed with bovine pericardial sleeves. In Group II, we used TA 55 staplers alone; in Group III we used the ‘old fashion’ cautery, clamps and silk ties. The three groups were homogeneous for age, type of pulmonary resection and stage of the tumor. The duration of postoperative air leaks and hospital stay were compared with the one-way variance analysis.


Postoperative air leaks for Groups I, II and III persisted for 2±0.94, 5.3±2 and 5.3±1.7 days, respectively. Mean hospital stay was 4.4±0.96, 7.8±2.14 and 7.2±1.5, respectively. The difference between groups in terms of duration of postoperative air leaks and hospital stay was statistically significant (P=0.0001).


The use of GIA staplers and pericardial sleeves to complete interlobar fissures for pulmonary lobectomy significantly reduces the duration of postoperative air leaks and hospital stay; no complications were associated with this technique.

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