The Athens uniportal video-assisted thoracic surgery masterclass—an ambitious kickstarter

Constantine Marios Soultanis, Diego Gonzalez Rivas, Konstantinos Konstantinidis, Konstantinos Siafakas


The shift from open to minimally invasive techniques in thoracic surgery has been dramatic during the past 10 years. Not only the feasibility, safety, reproducibility and oncologic efficacy of these techniques have been clearly demonstrated, but also their superiority concerning mortality, postoperative pain, postoperative quality of life and recovery. Thus, video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is currently the procedure of choice for a wide variety of thoracic interventions, ranging from major pulmonary resections for lung cancer to thymectomy and mediastinal procedures, even to esophageal procedures. Amongst the various minimally invasive techniques, the uniportal or single incision VATS has recently gained great popularity. The concept of a single 2.5 cm incision, despite not being the technique’s only advantage, through which major thoracic procedures can be carried out, seems to greatly appeal to surgeons throughout the globe. Appealing as it may be, the technique is also demanding, revealing the need for training. A well organised and structured, fee free training programme that has been running at the Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital for more than 2 years under the inspirational guidance of Dr. Gonzalez Rivas has undoubtedly skyrocketed the technique’s adoption worldwide. Of equal significance towards the spread of the technique have proved to be the master classes, 2-day intensive tutorials, hosted by centres all over the world during which Dr Rivas outlines the principles of the technique before performing with the assistance of the local surgical team. We hereby reflect on the experience obtained following Riva’s visit to our institution in Athens, Hellas (Greece) for a 2-day uniportal VATS master class, the first held in Hellas.