Is video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy a unified approach?

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Few surgeons worldwide currently perform video-assisted thoracoscopic (VAT) lobectomy. We conducted a questionnaire survey of this selected group of surgeons to gain insight into their current practice.


A survey with 25 questions on VAT lobectomy including operative approaches, techniques, its role in their practice, and limitations were mailed to 45 thoracic surgeons worldwide who are believed to perform this operation.


Thirty-three completed questionnaires were analyzed. Among those surgeons practicing VAT lobectomy, the vast majority work in an academic or government institution and have at least 5 years of practice experience. Two thirds reported that at least 40% of all their thoracic procedures are currently performed using VAT techniques. However, considerable variations exist regarding preference for VAT lobectomy (one third uses VAT techniques in less than 10% of all lobectomies performed, whereas another third uses it in more than 40% of lobectomies), their approaches to mediastinal and hilar lymph nodes, and their operative techniques. The latter range from a purely endoscopic technique to one that is more appropriately termed minithoracotomy with video-assistance when the surgeons operate primarily by looking through the utility thoracotomy. There were no significant differences in the practices of surgeons working in different continents, except that Asian surgeons were more likely to use suture ligation as opposed to a staple-cutter on pulmonary vessels.


Video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy is not a unified approach. Considerable variations exist among the small group of surgeons performing this procedure, in their approach to surgical oncology as well as the operative technique. Distinctions in these different operative approaches must be made before one can make a meaningful comparison of results. Different terms should probably be introduced to further clarify the exact techniques used.

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