Early and long-term complaints following video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery: Evaluation in 173 patients

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Objective: Minimal invasive surgical techniques have gained high acceptance in thoracic surgery during the last 10 years. However, up to now, only scant information exists on chronic postoperative pain and discomfort in patients who underwent video-assisted thoracoscopy. Therefore, a retrospective study was performed with the aid of a self-reported questionnaire. Methods: Two hundred and thirteen patients (of whom 79 females) with a mean age of 48 (range 15-88) years were operated on for a total of 225 procedures. Thoracoscopy was performed for pneumothorax (n = 70), pulmonary nodules (n = 44), interstitial lung diseases (n = 20), pleural effusion (n = 20), and empyema (n = 19). Various indications included therapeutic or diagnostic procedures in bullous disease, mediastinal tumors, carcinoma, inflammatory lung disease, hyperhidrosis mani and bronchiectasis. Results: Mean drainage time was 6.0 � 4.7 days and hospital stay 8.4 � 6.6 days. One patient died on the ninth postoperative day after lobectomy for bronchial carcinoma due to cardiac failure, five patients needed a short period of reintubation due to acute respiratory failure. In two patients, thoracoscopic reoperation was necessary for closure of bronchopleural fistula. The self-reported questionnaire was returned by 173 (81%) of all patients within a mean follow-up of 18 (3-38) months. More than half of the patients (53%) reported no thoracic pain as early as 2 weeks after the procedure. At 2 weeks after the operation, 13% of patients suffered from localized pain and 31% from diffuse discomfort. Twelve percent needed pain medication regularly, and 3% occasionally. At 6 months postoperatively, three quarters of the patients had no complaints, 5% suffered from scar pain, and 20% had diffuse chest discomfort. One year after the procedure, 86% of the patients had no complaints, 9% suffered from minimal pain, and 5% from moderate pain. Two years after the procedure, 96% of the patients had no complaints at all. One hundred and twenty-five of the 140 patients (89%) working preoperatively went back to work within 2 weeks after the operation. Fifteen patients did not work between 3 and 16 weeks; 14 due to chest pain, one due to shoulder pain. Conclusion: Video-assisted thoracoscopy permits very early recovery with rapid reintegration into the working process. Long- term complaints after videothoracoscopy are rare. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. © Oxford University Press 2001.




Stammberger, U., Steinacher, C., Hillinger, S., Schmid, R. A., Kinsbergen, T., & Weder, W. (2000). Early and long-term complaints following video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery: Evaluation in 173 patients. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 18(1), 7–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1010-7940(00)00426-7

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