Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery in the treatment of patients with bullous emphysema
Kuan-Chun Lin1, Shi-Ping Luh2,3
1Department of Thoracic Medicine, Chia-Yi Hospital, 2Thoracic Surgery, St Martin De Porres Hospital, 3National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan, China
Purpose: Surgical operation for bullous emphysema is indicated for patients with symptoms related to the compression of giant bullae (usually >30% of hemithorax) or other related complications, such as infection, rupture, or bleeding. Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) has been widely applied in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with intrathoracic diseases, including bullous emphysema.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed nine patients with symptomatic or complicated bullous emphysema, who were treated by bullectomy using VATS in the past two years. Eight males and one female were included, with ages ranging from 39 to 82 (median 62) years. Eight (89%) were heavy smokers. Pulmonary function tests were performed preoperatively in only three patients because of their compromised condition on admission.
Results: Bullae resection and pleurodesis was performed using VATS in the eight patients. The operating time ranged from 35 to 75 (median 50) minutes. Two patients had minor postoperative complications (one prolonged air leak for more than seven days and one wound infection), which recovered with conservative treatment. The chest tube was successfully removed 5–14 days postoperatively. Either symptomatic relief or improved pulmonary function was noted in these patients postoperatively. One patient complained of intermittent dyspnea during follow-up, but the imaging study was essentially normal.
Conclusion: Bullectomy for patients with bullous emphysema can be performed safely and effectively using VATS. Additional pleurodesis or suturing reinforcement can prevent the complication of air leak.
Keywords: video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, bullous emphysema, bullectomy