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EJCTS: "Is video-assisted thoracic surgery justified at first spontaneous pneumothorax? "


Guido Torresini, Maurizio Vaccarili, Duilio Divisi, Roberto Crisci
Thoracic Department, University of L'Aquila, Hospital of Teramo, Teramo, Italy

Received 21 November 2000; received in revised form 28 February 2001; accepted 13 March 2001.

Corresponding author. Via Ciaccio, 33, 64100 Teramo, Italy. Tel.: +39-0861-414798; fax: +39-0861-211626
e-mail: r.crisci@libero.it


The fundamental role of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) in the treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax is generally acknowledged today. This study intends to evaluate whether VATS is justified at the onset of a first spontaneous pneumothorax through analysis of parameters tested on two group of patients treated respectively with pleural drainage and VATS.


The study includes 70 patients affected by first spontaneous pneumothorax divided into two groups of 35 patients for the purpose of therapeutic treatment. The first group underwent pleural drainage while the second underwent VATS. Parameters analyzed were as follows: (1) prolonged air leaks (more than 6 days); (2) time required for pleural drainage; (3) time of hospital stay; (4) management costs; (5) recurrences (follow-up at 12 months). Results: Prolonged air leaks occurred in four patients (11.4%) in the first group and two patients (5.7%) in the second; recurrences occurred in eight patients in the first group (22.8%), and only one in the second group (2.8%). Mean time for drainage and hospitalization was, respectively, 9 and 12 days in patients with pleural drainage against 3.9 and 6 days of those using VATS. Average management costs per patients including hospitalization was calculated at $2,750.00 per patient for the first group compared with $1,925.00 for the second group.


The use of VATS at first spontaneous pneumothorax is justified in the interest of both patients and health administrations as demonstrated by the number of recurrences in patients in the first group and economy savings resulting from use of VATS.

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