Ongoing prospective study of segmentectomy for small lung tumors

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Lesser resection for small lung tumors remains an unresolved problem. This study was conducted to see whether this type of operation is acceptable or not.


From 1992 to 1994, 55 patients were enrolled in a multicenter trial of limited surgical resection for peripheral tumors of less than 2 cm diameter. The procedure consisted of segmentectomy with exploration of lymph nodes by examining frozen sections. The operation was modified if the report was positive. The intersegmental plane was identified by keeping the resected segments inflated and the preserved segments collapsed. To divide the plane, stapling or electrocauterization on the edge of the collapsed area was used. In this way the resection line was delivered beyond the burdened segment; this was called extended segmentectomy.


There were no perioperative deaths, but there were eight postoperative deaths. In 1 patient who died because of local recurrence, it had been known that the margin to the lesion had been narrow (15 mm); 1 had bilateral intrapulmonary nodules, 1 had nodules in the side that was not operated on, and another succumbed to a second neoplasm of small cell lung cancer 4 years after the first operation. The remaining 4 died of nonpulmonary diseases. Almost all other patients are alive and free from recurrence, except for 1 in whom N2 disease was not detected intraoperatively but was confirmed after the operation.


The interim results suggest that extended segmentectomy is applicable in patients with a small peripheral lung cancer. However, a wide margin and aggressive intraoperative pathologic examinations are mandatory.

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