Management of Pleural Space After Lung Resection by Cryoneuroablation of Phrenic Nerve: A Randomized Study

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Objectives. Residual air space problems after pulmonary lobectomy are an important concern in thoracic surgical practice, and various procedures have been applied to manage them. This study describes a novel technique using controllable paralysis of the diaphragm by localized freezing of the phrenic nerve, and assesses the effectiveness of this procedure to reduce air space after pulmonary lobectomy. Methods. In this prospective randomized study, 207 patients who underwent lobectomy or bilobectomy and systematic mediastinal node dissection in our department between January 2009 and November 2013 were randomly allocated to a cryoneuroablation group or a conventional group. Patients in the cryoneuroablation group (n = 104) received phrenic nerve cryoneuroablation after lung procedures, and patients in the conventional group (n = 103) did not receive cryoneuroablation after the procedure. Data regarding preoperative clinical and surgical characteristics in both groups were collected. Both groups were compared with regard to postoperative parameters such as total amount of pleural drainage, duration of chest tube placement, length of hospital stay, requirement for repeat chest drain insertion, prolonged air leak, and residual space. Perioperative lung function was also compared in both groups. Recovery of diaphragmatic movement in the cryoneuroablation group was checked by fluoroscopy on the 15th, 30th, and 60th day after surgery. Results. There was no statistically significant difference in patient characteristics between the 2 groups; nor was there a difference in terms of hospital stay, new drain requirement, and incidence of empyema. In comparison with the conventional group, the cryoneuroablation group had less total drainage (1024 ± 562 vs 1520 ± 631 mL, P < .05), fewer cases of residual space (9 vs 2, P < .05), fewer cases of prolonged air leak (9 vs 1, P < .01), and shorter duration of drainage (3.2 ± 0.2 vs 4.3 + 0.3 days, P < .01). Diaphragmatic paralyses caused by cryoneuroablation reversed within 30 to 60 days. Conclusions. Cryoneuroablation of the phrenic nerve offers a reasonable option for prevention of residual air space following major pulmonary resection.

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