Article Abstract

Non-intubated thoracoscopic surgery for lung cancer in patients with impaired pulmonary function

Authors: Man-Ling Wang, Ming-Hui Hung, Hsao-Hsun Hsu, Kuang-Cheng Chan, Ya-Jung Cheng, Jin-Shing Chen


Background: Patients with impaired lung function or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are considered high-risk for intubated general anesthesia, which may preclude them from surgical treatment of their lung cancers. We evaluated the feasibility of non-intubated video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for the surgical management of lung cancer in patients with impaired pulmonary function.
Methods: From August 2009 to June 2015, 28 patients with impaired lung function (preoperative forced expiratory volume in 1 second <70% of the predicted value) underwent non-intubated VATS using a combination of thoracic epidural anesthesia or intercostal nerve block, and intra-thoracic vagal block with target-controlled sedation.
Results: Eighteen patients had primary lung cancers, 4 had metastatic lung cancers, and 6 had non-malignant lung tumors. In the patients with primary lung cancer, lobectomy was performed in 4, segmentectomy in 3 and wedge resection in 11, with lymph node sampling adequate for staging. One patient required conversion to intubated one-lung ventilation because of persistent wheezing and labored breathing. Five patients developed air leaks more than 5 days postoperatively while subcutaneous emphysema occurred in 6 patients. Two patients developed acute exacerbations of pre-existing COPD, and new-onset atrial fibrillation after surgery occurred in 1 patient. The median duration of postoperative chest tube drainage was 3 days while the median hospital stay was 6 days.
Conclusions: Non-intubated VATS resection for pulmonary tumors is technically feasible. It may be applied as an alternative to intubated general anesthesia in managing lung cancer in selected patients with impaired pulmonary function.

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