Nonintubated Thoracoscopic Lobectomy for Lung Cancer Using Epidural Anesthesia and Intercostal Blockade: A Retrospective Cohort Study of 238 Cases

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Intubated general anesthesia with single-lung ventilation has been considered mandatory for thoracoscopic lobectomy for nonsmall cell lung cancer. Few reports of thoracoscopic lobectomy without tracheal intubation are published, using either thoracic epidural anesthesia (TEA) or intercostal blockade. The comparisons of perioperative outcomes of nonintubated thoracoscopic lobectomy using epidural anesthesia and intercostal blockade are not reported previously.

From September 2009 to August 2014, a total of 238 patients with lung cancer who underwent nonintubated thoracoscopic lobectomy were recruited from our prospectively maintained database of all patients undergoing nonintubated thoracoscopic surgery using TEA or intercostal blockade. A multiple regression analysis, adjusting for preoperative variables, was performed to compare the perioperative outcomes of the 2 anesthesia methods.

Overall, 130 patients underwent nonintubated thoracoscopic lobectomy using epidural anesthesia whereas 108 had intercostal blockade. The 2 groups were similar in demographic data, except for sex, preoperative lung function, physical status classification, and history of smoking. After adjustment for the preoperative variables, nonintubated thoracoscopic lobectomy using intercostal blockade was associated with shorter durations of anesthetic induction and surgery (P < 0.001). Furthermore, hemodynamics were more stable with less use of vasoactive drugs (odds ratio: 0.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.27 to 1.04; P = 0.064) and less blood loss (mean difference: −55.2 mL; 95% CI, −93 to −17.3; P = 0.004). Postoperatively, the 2 groups had comparable incidences of complications. Patients in the intercostal blockade group had a shorter average duration of chest tube drainage (P = 0.064) but a similar average length of hospital stay (P = 0.569). Conversion to tracheal intubation was required in 13 patients (5.5%), and no in-hospital mortality occurred in either group.

Nonintubated thoracoscopic lobectomy using either epidural anesthesia or intercostal blockade is feasible and safe. Intercostal blockade is a simpler alternative to epidural anesthesia for nonintubated thoracoscopic lobectomy in selected patients with lung cancer.

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