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Comparison of surgical techniques for early-stage thymoma: Feasibility of minimally invasive thymectomy and comparison with open resection

Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2010.09.003
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Objective The minimally invasive, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical (VATS) approach to resection of the thymus is frequently practiced for benign disease; however, a VATS approach for thymoma remains controversial. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the feasibility of VATS thymectomy for the treatment of early-stage thymoma and to compare the outcomes with those after open resection. Methods A retrospective review of 40 patients who underwent surgical resection of early-stage thymoma during a 12-year period was conducted. Data on patient characteristics, morbidity, recurrence, and survival were collected. The primary endpoint studied was overall survival. Results Of the 40 patients, 14 underwent thymectomy for stage I and 26 for stage II thymoma; 19 were men and 21 were women (median age, 64 years; range, 35–86 years). Open thymectomy was performed in 22 patients, and VATS was performed in 18. The operative mortality rate was 0%. The tumor stage and number of patients undergoing adjuvant radiotherapy were comparable in both surgical groups. The median length of hospital stay was shorter in the VATS group (3 days) than in the open group (5 days) ( P = .0001). The median follow-up was 36 months. No significant differences were found in the estimated recurrence-free and overall 5-year survival rates (83%–100%) between the 2 groups. Conclusions VATS of early-stage thymoma appears safe and feasible and was associated with a shorter hospital stay. The oncologic outcomes were comparable in the open and VATS groups during intermediate-term follow-up. Additional follow-up is required to evaluate the long-term results of thoracoscopic thymectomy for early-stage thymoma.

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