Complete Mediastinal Lymph Node Dissection in Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Lobectomy Versus Lobectomy by Thoracotomy

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Although video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy has been used more and more frequently for the treatment of patients with early-stage lung cancer, controversies are mainly focused on whether the complete mediastinal lymph node dissection (MLND) can be achieved by VATS. This retrospective study aimed to compare the validity of MLND between VATS and open thoracotomy.


Patients with lung cancer were matched from a pool of pulmonary lobectomies performed by one surgeon. Patients undergoing VATS were matched with those undergoing thoracotomy in terms of gender, age, clinical tumor stage, tumor location, and surgical procedure.


After matching, 31 patients in VATS group and 31 patients in open group were eligible for analysis. In the VATS and open groups, the mean total number of dissected lymph nodes was 28.2 ± 8.4 and 29.8 ± 11.6 (p = 0.517), respectively. In the VATS and open groups, the number of N1 nodes was 9.5 ± 4.1 and 8.4 ± 4.7 (p = 0.333), respectively. And the number of N2 nodes was also similar between the VATS and open group (18.6 ± 7.0 vs 21.4 ± 10.0, p = 0.211). No significant differences were observed between the two groups in the operating time, the blood loss, the length of chest tube drainage, the length of hospital stay, and the rate of specific complications.


Our early experience suggests that, with regard to the number of the dissected lymph nodes, VATS lobectomy can achieve complete MLND, compared with the traditional approach. MLND by VATS is technically feasible and safe for early-stage lung cancer.

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