Routine intensive monitoring but not routine intensive care unit-based management is necessary in video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery lobectomy for lung cancer

Seung Eun Lee, Woo Hyun Cho, Sang Kwon Lee, Ki Sup Byun, Bong Soo Son, Doosoo Jeon, Yun Seong Kim, Hye Ju Yeo


Background: Evidence for immediate postoperative intensive care unit (ICU) care is still lacking in the era of minimally invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). We evaluated the safety and feasibility of general ward (GW) care after VATS lobectomy for lung cancer.
Methods: A total of 451 patients who underwent VATS lobectomy for lung cancer between June 2012 and August 2017 were retrospectively studied. The patients were divided into two groups (ICU 344 vs. GW 107). We compared the postoperative complications and mortality between the two groups after propensity score matching. Furthermore, we evaluated the clinical factors associated with complications, and stratified patients according to the risk for complications.
Results: Immediate complications (within 24 hours after surgery) occurred in 0.4%. Non-immediate complications occurred in 18.8%. There were no differences in the incidence of complications and mortality between the two groups, after propensity matching. However, the length of postoperative stay (12.6±10.0 vs. 10.3±4.1 days, P=0.041) was significantly higher in the ICU group than in the GW group. Multivariate regression analyses revealed that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) [odds ratio (OR) =3.00, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.51–5.97, P=0.002], non-stage I cancer (OR =2.54, 95% CI: 1.39–4.62, P=0.002), multi-port surgery (OR =3.75, 95% CI: 2.18–6.44, P<0.001), and age ≥60 years (OR =2.12, 95% CI: 1.03–4.37, P=0.042) were associated with complications. Immediate postoperative care in GW had no influence on complications.
Conclusions: Immediate postoperative care after VATS lobectomy for lung cancer in GW was safe and feasible without poor outcomes. Therefore, selective intensive monitoring for high risk groups may offer cost-saving and efficient use of ICU resources.