Experience With the Two-Windows Method for Mediastinal Lymph Node Dissection in Lung Cancer

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Continuing to refine minimally invasive thoracoscopic surgical procedures, we have established the two-windows method.


Skin incisions required by this method consist of a 2- to 3-cm skin incision posteriorly, and a 2- to 3-cm skin incision anteriorly in the fourth intercostal space, with the inferior angle of the scapula as the midpoint. We used this method to perform pulmonary lobectomies in combination with thoracoscopy and mediastinal lymph node dissection in 100 consecutive patients with lung cancer (preoperative diagnosis, stage I, T1 N0 M0).


The mean operative time was 2 hours 46 minutes, the mean blood loss was 68.2 mL, and the mean number of mediastinal lymph nodes dissected was 24.3. In developing this minimally invasive thoracoscopic procedure, which facilitates mediastinal lymph node dissection, we realized that it is best performed through the fourth intercostal space. Because the tracheal bifurcation can be seen directly below this level, surgical manipulation in this area can be easily performed. This enables the same extent of mediastinal lymph node dissection as that performed during a standard thoracotomy. Another advantage of this method is that a standard posterolateral thoracotomy incision can be made whenever necessary by simply connecting the two incisions.


We believe that the two-windows method is capable of serving as the standard method for the surgical treatment of stage I lung cancer.

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