A glance at the history of uniportal video-assisted thoracic surgery

Tommaso Claudio Mineo, Vincenzo Ambrogi


In the history of thoracic surgery, the advent of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) had on effect equivalent to that provoked by a true revolution. VATS successfully allowed minor, major and complex procedures for various lung and mediastinal pathologies with small incision instead of the traditional accesses. These small incisions abolished ugly scars, generated less acute and chronic pain, reduced hospital stay and costs, allowed faster return to normal day life activities. Conventional VATS was initially performed through 3–4 ports and rapidly evolved to uniportal or single portal access [uniportal video-assisted thoracic surgery (uniVATS)]. First uniportal procedures were published in 2000. In 2010, uniportal technique for lobectomy was described. Focused experimental courses, live surgery events, the internet media favored the rapid diffusion of this technique over the world. Major and complex uniVATS lung resections involving segmentectomy, pneumonectomy, bronchoplasty and vascular reconstruction, redo VATS, en bloc chest wall resections have been accomplished with satisfactory outcomes. Interestingly, different uniportal approaches and techniques are emerging from a number of VATS centers particularly experienced in the mini-invasive thoracic surgery. As confidence grew, in 2014, the first uniVATS left upper lobectomy via the subxiphoid approach was reported. This novel technique is quite challenging but appropriate patient selection as well as availability of dedicated instruments allowed to perform procedures safely. The diffusion of uniVATS paralleled with the development of nonintubated awake anesthesia technique. In 2007 the first nonintubated lobectomy was described. In 2014 the first single port VATS lobectomy in a nonintubated patient with lung cancer of the right middle lobe was accomplished. The nonintubated uniVATS represents an intriguing technique, so that very experienced thoracoscopic surgeons may enroll to surgery elderly and high risk patients. Decreased postoperative pain and hospitalization, faster access to the radio-chemotherapy and diminished inflammatory response are important benefits of the modern approach to the thoracic pathologies. The history of uniVATS documented a constant and irresistible progress. This technique may further provide unthinkable surprises in next future.