Four years’ experience in uniportal video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery for major lung resections: influence of silicosis in clinical outcomes

Javier Aragón, Itzell Pérez Méndez


Background: Crystalline silica (CS) is one of the most common minerals and a common particulate air pollutant in both working and living environments. Lung cancer is considered one of the serious consequences of silica exposure. This paper gives an overview of the role of silicosis in results of perioperative and postoperative of lung resection surgery performed by the most up to date video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) approach: the uniportal VATS.
Methods: In January 2012 a program of video-assisted thoracoscopic anatomic pulmonary resections through a uniportal approach (no rib spreading) was started in our institution by a single surgeon experienced in postero-lateral open major resections and in other VATS procedures except lobectomies. We have retrospectively reviewed our first 4 years of experience in which 128 consecutive patients had undergone this approach, setting as a variable comparison of the results the presence of silicosis.
Results: Between January 2012 to December 2015, 128 anatomical resections where attempted. Of these attempted major resections, 115 (90%) were successfully completed. Out of 128 patients 21 (16%) had a diagnosis of complex silicosis. The most frequent resection was left upper lobectomy. The mean surgical time was 178±65 min. The median postoperative chest drain time was 3 days and the median postoperative hospital stay time was 3 days. There were 25 (19%) minor complications 17 (68%) of them in the first year of experience, and 3 (2.3%) had major complications. Preoperative forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) less than 60%, diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and silicosis have been predictive of postoperative minor complications.
Conclusions: The uniportal VATS for major anatomic lung resections is reproducible and safe with good results when performed by surgeons experienced in both open major resections (anterior or postero-lateral thoracotomy), and multiport VATS minor procedures, even in highly complex cases such as patients with silicosis. Presence of silicosis should be taken into account as a predictive factor for postoperative complications. Therefore, overestimation of the benefits of the procedure in the patient selection process especially in the initial part of the experience must be avoided.