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Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery in Patients With Previous Sternotomy and Cardiac Surgery

Serna-Gallegos, Derek R. MD; Merry, Heather E. MD; McKenna, Robert J. Jr MD

Innovations:Technology and Techniques in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery: January/February 2017 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 - p 15–20
doi: 10.1097/IMI.0000000000000344
Original Articles

Objective Although video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy has become a standard approach for early-stage 1 lung cancer, concerns exist regarding potential damage to the heart or bypass grafts when VATS is performed after cardiac surgery via median sternotomy. We could find only case reports regarding VATS lobectomy after sternotomy for cardiac surgery. Therefore, we reviewed our series of patients who underwent VATS anatomic resections after sternotomy for cardiac surgery.

Methods Between 1996 and 2010, there were 87 patients who underwent 88 pulmonary resections after sternotomy for coronary artery bypass grafting (64), valve replacement or repair (12), coronary artery bypass graft and valve replacement (6), and transplant (5). There were 10 women (11.5%) and 77 men (88.5%) with a mean age of 76.2 years. Diagnoses included lung cancer (83), pulmonary metastases (4), and benign disease (1).

Results Dense adhesions between the lung and the mediastinum sometimes occur after cardiac surgery. Compared with the total series of 2684 VATS lobectomies, operations after sternotomy are associated with greater mortality (12, 0.4% vs 5, 5.7%), myocardial infarction (13, 0.5% vs 2, 2.3%), transfusion (45, 1.7% vs 12, 13.6), conversion to thoracotomy (188, 7% vs 14, 15.9%). Injury occurred to the left main pulmonary artery (1, 1%) and internal mammary artery graft (1, 1%). There were no intraoperative deaths.

Conclusions Previous sternotomy for cardiac surgery does increase the risk for VATS lobectomy. Conversion to thoracotomy should be considered if dense adhesions are found. Techniques to reduce the risk for the heart are discussed.

From the *Department of Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA USA; †Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Providence Health and Services, Portland, OR USA; and ‡Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, CA USA.

Accepted for publication December 13, 2016.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Robert J. McKenna, Jr, MD, 2121 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404 USA. E-mail:

©2017 by the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery