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AIM: Aim of this study is to evaluate the validity of videothoracoscopic staging and treatment in a twenty-year-long series
of 286 VATS lobectomies for Clinical Stage I NSCLC.
MATERIAL OF STUDY: We retrospectively reviewed 1549 candidates to resection after conventional staging from November
1991 to December 2013, and routinely submitted to videothoracoscopy immediately before the procedure. Patients deemed
operable at videoexploration were resected by thoracoscopy or thoracotomy. Out of 534 VATS resections 286 thoracoscopic
lobectomies for clinical stage I cancers were performed with strict indications and standardized technique; more advanced
tumours were converted even when thoracoscopically resectable. Impact of preliminary videothoracoscopy and and longterm
Kaplan-Meier survival was analyzed.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Out of 1549 patients, videothoracoscopy disclosed inoperability in 62 (4 %), mostly for pleural
carcinosis (33pts.-2.1%) or mediastinal infiltration (22pts-1.4%). 534 (34.5%) patients had videothoracoscopic resection
(286 lobectomies, 7 pneumonectomies, 241 wedge resections), 919 (59.3%) had thoracotomy resection, 34 (2.2%)
had an exploratory thoracotomy (ET). Thoracoscopy had an accuracy rate of 72.4%, was reliable in excluding unresectability
(NPV 0.95), and decreased the rate of ETs to 2.1%, ,sparing 596 (38.5%) thoracotomies. There was no intraoperative mortality or recurrence. Stage I patients had 83.8% 3-yr survival and 64.3% 5-yr survival. Five-year survival was significantly better (p=0.004) for T1N0 patients (70%) than T2N0 (55%) and for patients younger than 55 (86.4%) or with lesion < 2 cm (80.8%). CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary videothoracoscopy reliably assesses tumor resectability and feasibility of thoracoscopic resection, limiting unnecessary thoracotomies. Videolobectomies are safe and survival is comparable to open lobectomy.