Right extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant mesothelioma via median sternotomy or thoracotomy? Short- and long-term results

European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery . 2007 May;31(5):759-64. Epub 2007 Mar 12. [Link]

Edwards JG, Martin-Ucar AE, Stewart DJ, Waller DA.

Department of Thoracic Surgery, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, United Kingdom.


Objective: To examine the short- and long-term results of right extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MM) via median sternotomy or thoracotomy.

Methods: We analysed the results of EPP in consecutive patients with early stage MM undergoing a radical surgery protocol for MM over a 7-year period. Initially thoracotomy, but later median sternotomy, was the incision of choice for right-sided tumours. The effects of the change of approach on perioperative course and survival were analysed.

Results: EPP was performed in 105 patients (50 left thoracotomy, 22 right thoracotomy, 28 sternotomy, 5 combined sternotomy and right thoracotomy). Operation time was faster with median sternotomy than right thoracotomy (p = 0.008). Right thoracotomy was associated with higher epidural infusion volume in the first 3 days than median sternotomy (p < 0.001). There were fewer postoperative complications in the sternotomy group (p = 0.05).
There were no differences in pathological stage, completeness of resection or duration of postoperative stay. Median survival following left thoracotomy, right thoracotomy and median sternotomy was 18.3, 8.5 and 17.7 months, respectively (p = 0.02). Planned neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy was more common following median sternotomy than right thoracotomy (p = 0.01). However, compared with the left thoracotomy and sternotomy groups, right EPP performed via thoracotomy was an independent predictor of poor prognosis (hazard ratio 2.3 (95% confidence intervals, CI 1.3–4.1), p = 0.02). No wound complications or tumour recurrence have been observed following median sternotomy.

Conclusions: Median sternotomy should be considered as an alternative approach to thoracotomy for right EPP.

Keywords: Malignant mesothelioma; Extrapleural pneumonectomy; Sternotomy