Balloon-Based Organ Retractor With Increased Safety and Reduced Invasiveness During Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery

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Objectives. In recent years, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) has increasingly become the preferred technique for thoracic surgery. However, the inherent characteristics of the lungs as large, soft, slippery, and delicate creates difficulties for pulmonary surgery. In this article, we outline the development and assessment of a balloon-based organ retractor for VATS via collaboration between medical and engineering personnel. Methods. A dry lab trial and accompanying questionnaire assessment were performed by a group of thoracic surgeons. Objective pressure measurements were obtained, and animal experiment on pigs was performed. Results. In the dry lab trial, use of the developed organ retractor required significantly less time and resulted in fewer difficulties than using a Cherry Dissector. The measured pressure per mm2 of the developed retractor was clearly lower than that for the Cherry Dissector. The questionnaire completed by the surgeons following the dry lab and animal experiments showed that most of the surgeons (7 surgeons out of 9) were satisfied with the quality of the balloon-based retractor based on a score of 3.13 ± 0.28 (mean ± standard deviation) out of 4.0. During the animal experiment, the balloon-based retractor provided stable and clear viewing with minimal need for adjustment. Conclusion. This balloon-based retractor could contribute to increased safety and less-invasive VATS.

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