Early and mid-term outcomes of trans-sternal and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery for thymoma†

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Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for thymoma has uncertain safety and effectiveness in comparison with trans-sternal resection. This feasibility study compared short- and mid-term outcomes for patients undergoing these two procedures, highlights weaknesses in current research and makes recommendations for long-term technological evaluations in this field.


Consecutive thymoma cases between 2004 and 2010 were identified. Patients were divided into two groups according to surgical approach (Group I trans-sternal; Group II VATS) and comparisons were made between groups. The primary outcome was overall survival. Secondary outcomes included operative morbidity and mortality, hospital stay, recurrence rate and disease-free survival.


Thirty-nine patients were included (Group I: n = 22 vs Group II: n = 17). There were no differences between groups at baseline for all measured covariates. No deaths occurred within 30 days of surgery. More patients in Group I developed complications (Group I: n = 10 vs Group II: n = 3; P = 0.093), while hospital stay was shorter in Group II (Group I: 6.4 ± 4.6 days vs Group II: 4.4 ± 1.8 days; P = 0.030). Five-year overall survival (Group I: 93.8 ± 6.1% vs Group II: 83.3 ± 11.2%; P = 0.425), 5-year disease-free survival (Group I: 71.0 ± 15.3% vs Group II: 83.3 ± 11.2%; P = 0.827) and recurrence rates at final follow-up (Group I: n = 2 vs Group II: n = 1; P = 0.363) were similar between the groups.


VATS thymectomy for thymoma is feasible, safe and has comparable mid-term oncological outcomes to trans-sternal thymectomy. Future research is required to evaluate long-term oncological outcomes of VATS thymectomy for thymoma in national registries and randomized, controlled trials.

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