Even though the benefits of the technique have been documented over the past decade – shorter recovery times and hospitalisations, reduced pain, and improved quality of life, for example – it is currently used in only about five percent of the 40,000 lobectomies performed each year in the United States.
“Our data show that it can be safe and our long-term follow-up shows that it results in standard cancer survival. Whether you get access through a big hole or a little hole doesn’t matter,” said Robert McKenna Jr., M.D., surgical director of the Center for Chest Diseases and medical director of Thoracic Surgery and Trauma at Cedars-Sinai.
Of the 1,100 patients included in the study concerning video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), 595 were women, 505 were men. The average age was 71 years, with 160 patients being 80 years of age or older. The mortality rate was less than one percent, fewer than five percent of patients needed to go to the intensive care unit, and the median length of hospital stay was three days. All operations were performed between February 1992 and December 2004.
“About 20 percent of our patients go home from the hospital on either the first or second day following lobectomy for lung cancer,” McKenna said. “The VATS procedure is not a pain-free surgery. It does hurt; but it does hurt considerably less than standard open procedures. Most patients will be tired and sore for a month or two but VATS tremendously shifts the recovery rate and reduces the pain compared to the standard operation. We have had two patients who played tennis five and six days after having lobectomies this way and two patients who played golf seven days after having lobectomies this way.”
MEDICA.de; Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center